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Table of Contents:

   for Publications                                                                
     Alessandro Ludovico <>                                      

   September 2002                                                                  
     Le Monde diplomatique <>                          

   Call for Contributions to Sarai Reader 03 :  "Shaping Technologies"             
     Shuddhabrata Sengupta <>                                       

   ___ R E A L T O K Y O  MAIL MAGAZINE  Vol. 95___                                
     OZAKI Tetsuya <>                                            

   Rexroth's Poetic Anarchism                                                      
     "Bureau of Public Secrets" <>                                     

   en) no border issue of green pepper wants submissions                           
     "anarcho sando" <>                                     

   variant issue 15  (for announcer)                                               
     matthew fuller <>                                          

   argentinas popular rebellion ( new publication )                                
     John Jordan <>                                            


Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2002 14:07:49 +0800
From: Alessandro Ludovico <>
Subject: for Publications

NEURAL is an indipendent new media culture
magazine in Italian, printed quarterly.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
:: English content
:: interviews and daily links
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
:: []
:: daily news and reviews
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
[Neural n.19 contents]
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
                     . Richard Stallman interview,
                     . David Lyon interview,
                     . Hackit 2001,
                       Radio Cybernet
                     . news (Hack Xbox, biometrics,
                       cryptography os, omographs,
                       Bugnosis, Anti-Keylogger)
                     . reviews: (Himmanen,
                       Sarai Reader, Crypto Anarchy,
                       Kurzweil, John Kats-Geeks,
                       Berners-Lee, Dertouzos,
                       Ferry Byte-Parrini, Stallman)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
                . Dat Politics (interview),
                . 386dx Alexei Shulgin (interview),
                . Massimo (interview),
                . Home Computer music scene 2
                  (Nanoloop, Gameboy Pocketnoise),
                . news: (Jazz and insects, Hyperscore,
                  Aphex Twin face, Discogs,
                  Total Recorder, Sonograms)
                . reviews: (Transambient,
                  Noise Water Meat, Techno Rebels,
                  Bjork, Clubspotting 2)
                . reviews cd: (Peace Orchestra, Fauna
                  Flash, Koop, Dj Spooky, Mixmaster
                  Mike, Keoki, Playgroup, 4vini,
                  Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia,
                  Ken Ishii, Vainio/Fennesz, Merzbow,
                  Foetus, Andreas Berthiling,
                  Jim 'O Rourke, Aphex Twin,
                  Alec Empire, Nic Endo...)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
                          . Surveillance Camera Players
                          . Lev Manovich (interview),
                          . Wolfgang Stahele (interview),
                          . Transmediale 2002,
                          . MMM + AHA,
                          . Star Stripper, fiction,
                          . news: (Hiperlook, Minitasking
                            10, vOluptuary, Metapet)
                          . reviews (Arte Y Electricidad,
                            Telematic Connections, Interaction,
                            Utopian Entrepreneur, Cast01
                            Machine Times, AE 2001,
                            Technicolor, African Fractals,
                            Metal and Flesh, Supervideo G8,
                            WW Video Festival, Sign,
                            Io Erotica, Corpi Sognanti...),
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
:[Neural Station]  emusic+news every tuesday
: on Controradio Bari-Popolare Network
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
* 1 year subscription (Europe): 18 Euro (3 issues)
* sample (Europe): 6 Euro.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

- -- 

Alessandro Ludovico - daily updated news + reviews
Suoni Futuri Digitali - ISBN 88-7303-614-7


Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2002 11:47:54 +0200 (CEST)
From: Le Monde diplomatique <>
Subject: September 2002 

   Le Monde diplomatique 


                          September 2002

                          In this issue:
    ... a special dossier: US, the new Rome, the hawks' first
    strike doctrine, the Christian right and Israel, the fears
    of moderate Islam, why a secret mass grave in Afghanistan?
      .. plus Sabra and Shatila 20 years on; is Germany for
   Stoiber?; India: full granaries, empty stomachs; Argentina's
               life after bankruptcy... and more...

     A small number of these articles and our editorial are
     available to non-subscribers

     To read the rest of this month's articles go to and click on Subscribe.

     It couldn't be easier...

Target Baghdad


                              Translated by Wendy Kristianasen



A drive to death in the desert *


     President Bush wants to attack Iraq as part of his war on
     terror and the "axis of evil", and would like the United
     States to regulate world order, or disorder, alone. A new
     empire is asserting itself on the international stage,
     though not without debate inside the US. Meanwhile
     Washington has been unable to bring stability to
     Afghanistan nearly a year after its intervention.

                                      Original text in English

The wedding bombing *


                              Translated by Wendy Kristianasen


Westward the course of Empire


     The aftermath of the terrorist attacks has revived
     imperialist ideology in the United States, rather than
     caused it to query its world role. Writers do not
     hesitate to draw parallels between their nation and
     ancient Rome, which they hold to be a model for world
     domination in the 21st century.

                                   Translated by Harry Forster


The hawk doctrine *


     US military strategy was already changing before 11
     September, but the attacks reinforced the new approach.
     As threats against the American homeland are seen as
     intolerable, a strategy for the pre-emptive use of force
     is being established, besides traditional deterrence and

                                   Translated by Harry Forster

Which God is on whose side? *


                                      Translated by the author

Don't go it alone


                                      Translated by the author


Islamists divided *

by our special correspondent WENDY KRISTIANASEN

     Since last September the gap between Islamic militants
     and peaceful movements has widened. But in Egypt there
     has been a quiet revolution as the largest radical group
     has renounced violence and denounced Osama bin Laden and

                                      Original text in English

Hail to the (fictional) chief *


                                   Translated by Luke Sandford


The past is always present

by our special correspondent PIERRE PÉAN

     The massacres in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila
     in Lebanon in 1982, when hundreds of civilians were
     butchered by rightwing militia, remain crucial events in
     the history of the Palestinian people.

                                    Translated by Julie Stoker



Germany: the Bavarian model *


     Germany is recovering after floods in August, claiming
     dozens of lives. Perhaps with the September legislative
     elections in mind, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder postponed
     scheduled tax cuts and released 7bn euros ($6.8bn). This
     welcome move has left Edmund Stoiber, his Christian
     Democrat rival, in an awkward position.

                                   Translated by Luke Sandford


West Papua: undefeated *

by our special correspondent DAMIEN FAURE

     For 40 years the Indonesian government has had harsh
     colonial policy vis-à-vis the people of West Papua
     (formerly Irian Jaya). Whereas East Timor became a cause
     célèbre, West Papua has been passed over. The United
     Nations is not interested. Yet the forgotten people fight
     on for their cultural and political identity.

                                  Translated by Barbara Wilson


India: free markets, empty bellies *

by our special correspondent ROLAND-PIERRE PARINGAUX

     The outgoing World Trade Organisation director-general,
     Mike Moore, said the WTO's greatest motivation was the
     people it served. India's small farmers do not see it
     that way. The nation's agricultural policy has long been
     geared to meeting its own needs and being self-sufficient
     in food. But the WTO is pressing India to open its
     markets, and so agriculture is being destroyed as big
     foreign producers flood in. And people stay hungry.

                               Translated by Malcolm Greenwood

When even too much is not enough *


                               Translated by Malcolm Greenwood


Argentina: life after bankruptcy

by our special correspondent CLARA AUGÉ

     The Argentine government has acknowledged that it does
     not have the funds to do anything about a ruling of the
     country's supreme court that a 13% cut in state pensions
     and civil servants' salaries was unconstitutional. The
     people, angry and energised, are ready to continue

                                   Translated by Luke Sandford



Irregular deregulation *


     Telecommunications liberalisation, launched by Western
     governments to media enthusiasm, was supposed to create
     brilliant new industries. IMF loans were to guarantee
     prosperity in Latin America. These hopes have been dashed
     by stock exchange crashes and by the financial crisis
     engulfing Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

                                  Translated by Barbara Wilson


     (*) Star-marked articles are available to paid subscribers only.

     Yearly subscription fee: 24 US $ (Institutions 48 US $).


       For more information on our English edition, please visit


       To subscribe to our free "dispatch" mailing-list, send an
       (empty) e-mail to:

       To unsubscribe from this list, send an (empty) e-mail to:

     English language editorial director: Wendy Kristianasen

      ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 1997-2002 Le Monde diplomatique


Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2002 22:55:23 +0530
From: Shuddhabrata Sengupta <>
Subject: Call for Contributions to Sarai Reader 03 :  "Shaping Technologies"

Call for Contributions to Sarai Reader 03 :  "Shaping Technologies"

Sarai, ( an interdisciplinary research and practice programme
on the city and the media, at the Centre for the Study of Developing
Societies and Waag Society (, a center for culture and
technology based in Amsterdam, invites contributions to Sarai Reader 03 :
Shaping Technologies,

We also invite proposals to initiate and moderate discussions on the themes 
of the Sarai Reader 03 on the Reader List 
( with a view to the 
moderator(s) editing the transcripts of these discussions for publication in 
the Sarai Reader 03.

The Sarai Reader is an annual publication produced jointly by Sarai/CSDS 
(Delhi) and the Waag Society (Amsterdam).Previous Readers have included :
'The Public Domain' : Sarai Reader 01, 
and 'The Cities of Everyday Life' :  Sarai Reader 02, 2002, 
( ). 

The Sarai Reader series aims at bringing together original, thoughtful, 
critical, reflective, well researched and provocative texts and essays by 
theorists, practitioners and activists, grouped under a core theme that 
expresses the interests of the Sarai in issues that relate media, information 
and society in the contemporary world. The Sarai Readers have a wide 
international readership.

Editorial Collective for Sarai Reader 03 : Ravi Vasudevan, Ravi Sundaram, 
Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula & Shuddhabrata Sengupta (Sarai) and Geert 
Lovink & Marleen Strikker (The Waag Society)


The Concept - Shaping Technologies

Today, technology is second nature to us. If the landscape of earlier times 
could be ideally represented by images of naturally occurring objects, the 
landscape of the contemporary is one that can only be imagined as being 
peopled by machines. The 'nature' of our times is technological - we are 
embodied, articulated, located and governed by the machines we make to extend 
our lives, bodies and faculties. We shape the technologies that surround us 
and the technologies that surround us shape the contour of our lives. This is 
what we mean by the term 'Shaping Technologies', which as a term with two 
senses suggests both a subjective, social appropriation of technological 
creativity, as well as the impact of technologies  on society and life in 

One may even say that the technological ubiquity has gone so far as to make 
it nearly impossible for us to reflect upon technology as a phenomena 
separate from the general conditions of global urban life. We are what we 
work, play and think with, and today we work, play and think with our 
machines. We are users, inventors, practitioners, artists, hackers and 
artisans who work with technologies; we are technology's consumers and users, 
we are hobbyists, enthusiasts and addicts just as we are critics, prophets, 
and analysts. We are masters, slaves, victims and rebels of technology. No 
one remains untouched by the 'machine'. 

Yet, we do not have an adequate language with which to understand and 
articulate the presence of technology in culture, society and in politics. We 
are accustomed to construct utopian and dystopic technological imaginaries, 
even as we neglect the task of a sober and considered reflection of the 
ethical and cognitive dilemmas that the presence of technologies in everyday 
life confront us with. And even as technology becomes increasingly 
ubiquitous, even as it touches wider populations, even as an immersion in 
technoculture becomes the condition of the contemporary moment, it becomes 
simultaneously the discursive monopoly of experts and specialists, or of 
geeks and hobbyists, far removed from the concerns that animate scholars, 
public intellectuals, and the average curious person. Technology is the 
underpinning and the shadow of the public domain. Technology is ubiquitous, 
yet discursively invisible.

Sarai Reader 03 seeks to contribute to the termination of this discursive 
vacuum by asking what other imaginary space there may be, besides the 
imperative to consume, the irrepressible desire to shop for the next gadget 
that comes our way, and the whine of the perennial victim of the machine, 
with which we can envision technology's presence in our lives ?

In this third volume in the Sarai Reader series we will also look into 
alternative approaches towards technology, strategies to revitalize forgotten 
concepts (and their authors), re-readings of past debates and anticipations 
of future ones. We will weigh the utopian visions against the dystopic 
nightmares, perhaps to arrive at assessments that suggest sobriety and a 
'cool' consideration of the cold touch of the machine, as well as of the heat 
of the fuel that animates it. 

If you feel these issues and questions are of interest to you. If your 
practice, thought, curiosities, research or creative activity has impelled 
you to think about some of these issues, we invite you to contribute texts to 
Sarai Reader 03 : Shaping Technologies.

The Reader will have the following broad areas of interest:
I. Technologies of Urbanism : Making the City
II. The Everyday Experience of Technology
III. Philosophies of Technology - Being the Machine
IV. Technologies in History
IV. Imagining Technologies - The Machine in Art, Literature and Cinema
V. Technologies of the Body 
VI. Gender and Technology 
VII. Tactical Tech : Technologies of Power and Resistance 
VIII. D.I.Y (Do it Yourself) 
IX. Social Software
X. Technology and the Environment
XI. Networks and Transmissions

There will also be three additional special sections:
i. Selections from the Reader List on the violence in Gujarat in 
February/March 2002, 
ii. Design, Technology and the Urban Info Sphere : Case Studies from Amsterdam
iii. The book (like Readers 1 and 2) will end with the Alt/Option section, 
which offers manifestos and alternative perspectives



Word Limit : 1500 - 4000 words

1.Submissions may be scholarly, journalistic, or literary - or a mix of 
these,  in the form of essays, papers, interviews, online discussions or 
diary entries. All submission, unless specifically solicited, must be in 
English only.

2.Submissions must be sent by email in rich text format (rtf) or star-office 
documents. Articles may be accompanied by black and white photographs or 
drawings submitted in the tif format.

3.We urge all writers, to follow the Chicago Manual of Style, (CMS) in terms 
of footnotes, annotations and references. For more details about the CMS, 
please see the Florida State University web page on CMS  style documentation  
at :

4.All contributions should be accompanied by a three/four line text 
introducing the author. 

5.All submissions will be read by the editorial collective of the Sarai 
Reader 02 before the final selection is made. The editorial collective 
reserves the right not to publish any material sent to it for publication in 
the Sarai Reader on stylistic or editorial grounds. All contributors will be 
informed of the decisions of the editorial collective vis a vis their 
contribution after December 1, 2002.

6.Copyright for all accepted contributions will remain with the authors, but 
Sarai and the Waag Society reserve indefinitely the right to place any of the 
material accepted for publication on the public domain in print or electronic 
forms, and on the internet.

7.Accepted submissions will not be paid for, but authors are guaranteed a 
wide international readership. The Reader will be published in print, 
distributed in India and internationally, and will also be uploaded in a pdf 
form on to the Sarai website. All contributors whose work has been accepted 
for publication will receive two copies of the Reader.

Last date for submission - December 1st 2002.
(but please write as soon as possible to the editorial collective with a 
brief outline/abstract, not more than one page, of what you want to write 
about - this helps in designing the content of the reader)
We expect to have the reader published by mid February 2003.

Please send in your outlines and abstracts 

1. (for articles) to 
Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Co Ordinator, Sarai Reader 03 Editorial Collective

2. (for proposals to moderate online discussions on the Reader List) to 
Monica Narula, List Administrator,  the Reader List 


Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2002 05:38:24 +0900
From: OZAKI Tetsuya <>
Subject: ___ R E A L T O K Y O  MAIL MAGAZINE  Vol. 95___

R    E    A    L    T    O    K    Y    O    MAIL MAGAZINE

[This Week's Index]

(1) Tokyo Editors' Diary
Sugatsuke Masanobu (Composite) part II, vol. 1

(2) RealCities
 From Gateshead, England: The Opening of BALTIC

(3) Event Pick of the Week

This week's RT Picks:

art+cinema+music+stage+design+town = 51 events
including 11 new ones!
Plus new entries on our 'book/disk' page.

Check them out!

(1) Tokyo Editors' Diary

Sugatsuke Masanobu (Composite) part II, vol. 1

August 19

I'm meeting UA for an interview that will go into Composite volume 27 (on sale
from 9/10), the first issue we're publishing in six months. After the 
preview screening
of the movie "Mizu no onna," in which she plays her first leading role, we 
impressions on our mobile phones quite extensively, so I didn't expect the
conversation to be too long, but once we met there were again many things 
to talk
about. We were planning to do the interview right after photo shootings for 
her new
album "Dorobo," which were scheduled to finish at 3pm. We appeared at the 
in time, but it wasn't until 8 that we could start our photo shooting, and 
then finally sit
down for a long interview. Since we were both tired from the long studio 
work we
decided to do that at Higashiyama in Meguro while having dinner. Through the
movie she seems to have increased her self-confidence, so I'm sitting and 
to a stoically relaxed UA. "I can't live while lieing to myself, and 
programmed harmony
just kills me" she states, and as a clumsy editor I can perfectly 
understand her.

Read more at:

(2) RealCities

 From Gateshead, England: The Opening of BALTIC

On July 13 BALTIC, The Centre for Contemporary Art opened its doors in 
in England's north. The museum, which doesn't have an own collection, but 
is planning
conceptual exhibition events and artist-in-residence programs, borrows its 
name from
the Baltic fleet. In this season where the sun doesn't fully disappear 
before midnight,
director Sune Nordgren finally cut the ribbon and opened the museum to the 
at 0:00a.m. Masses of impatiently waiting people had been queueing up for 
hours, and the rush continued until the morning.

Read more at:

(3) Event Pick of the Week


Originally started in the UK, this worldwide biggest digital movie festival 
is held for
the sixth time this year. Here in Tokyo it's shown for the first time, 
though, and for this
special occasion a number of creators from overseas are coming to town. Besides
shorts made with computer graphics, the varied programme ranges from music
promotion videos, artistic motion graphics and commercial spots, to intro 
from PlayStation 2 games, etc. Participants from Japan include Teevee Graphics,
Devil Robots, and others, and one of the highlights will be the "Audio Sex"
presentation by a unit made up of top creators Ukawa Naohiro and Tei Towa.
Without doubt, Yurakucho is the place for video artists, VJs, and gamers to 
go this
- --Editorial Staff,1832

- ---------------------------------------------------------------

Next week on RT:

- - Tokyo Editors' Diary

- - Out of Tokyo

- - Presents

and more$B!D(B

- ---------------------------------------------------------------

In order to make REALTOKYO even more interesting and convenient
for you, we rely on your feedback. Please send us opinions or
productive suggestions concerning contents, structure, layouts,
etc. Three especially lucky readers who send a mail to
will be chosen and receive a little gift.

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our web site and/or in the mail magazine. Banners will get lots of
hits from people attracted to a web site full of catchy information
on cinema, art, music, theatre and other fun events in town.
Please contact the following email address for dimensions and costs. <>

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without permission from the publisher.

Copyright 2002 REALTOKYO


Date: Mon, 16 Sep 2002 16:03:50 -0700
From: "Bureau of Public Secrets" <>
Subject: Rexroth's Poetic Anarchism

Excerpts from Kenneth Rexroth's "The Dragon and the Unicorn" are now online
at .

The book-length poem recounts Rexroth's 1949 journey through France and
Italy. Anecdotes about his encounters and experiences are interwoven with
commentaries from diverse and often deliberately clashing perspectives --
political, philosophical, historical, aesthetic, mystical -- including some
of the most incisive and scathing radical critiques in Rexroth's work.

For example:

It is unfortunately
The case, that the world in which
We live is dominated
By two collectivities
Whose whole force is exerted
To depersonalize and
Quantify persons -- the State
And the Capitalist System.
If a person is that which
By definition can never
Be added to anything else,
The State is precisely the
Mechanism by which persons
Are reduced to integers.
The State exists to add and
Subtract, divide and multiply
Population units. Its
Components have no more and
No less reality than the
Mathematics of the battlefield.
Similarly, Capitalism
Views all existence in the form
Of commodities. Nothing
Is valuable except to
The extent it will bring a
Profit on the market. Again,
The human being is reduced
To a special commodity,
Labor power, his potential
To make other commodities.
Labor power on the market,
Firepower on the battlefield,
It is all one, merely two
Aspects of the same monster.
The parliaments of the State
Are only highly ritualized
Capitalist market places.
The battlefield is only
The most advanced form of trade.
The equities of the State
Are only devices for
Postponing the decisions
Of violence to a more
Opportune moment. The ballot
Is a paper substitute
For the billy, the bullet,
And the bayonet.

* * * * * * *

Sexual fulfillment was robbed
Of all meaning. The sex act became
A nervous stimulant and
Anodyne outside of the
Productive process, but still
Necessary to it as an
Insatiable, irrational
Drive, without which the struggle
For meaningless abstractions,
Commodities, would collapse.
This is the ultimate in
Human self alienation.
This is what the revolution
Is about. In a society
Ruled only by the cash nexus
The sexual relationship
Must be a continual struggle
Of each to obtain security
>From the other, a kind of
Security, a mass of
Commodities, which has no
Meaning for love, and today in
America, no meaning at all.
The greater the mass of things,
The greater the insecurity.
The security of love lies
In the state of indwelling rest.
It is its own security.
This is what free love is, freedom
>From the destructive power
Of a society coerced
Into the pursuit of insane
Against it are arrayed all
The consequences of a
Vast systematic delusion,
Without intelligence or
Mercy or even real being,
But with the power to kill.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Bureau of Public Secrets website features "The Joy of Revolution" and
other writings by Ken Knabb (recently collected in the book "Public
Secrets"), Knabb's translations from the Situationist International (the
notorious avant-garde group that helped trigger the May 1968 revolt in
France), and the Rexroth Archive (texts by and about the great writer and
social critic Kenneth Rexroth).


"Making petrified conditions dance by singing them their own tune."


Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 07:41:37 +0000
From: "anarcho sando" <>
Subject: en) no border issue of green pepper wants submissions

**"borders" articles call out**

Date :
Tue, 17 Sep 2002 17:34:13 +0200

  Reply  Reply All  Forward    Delete  Put in Folder...InboxSent 
MessagesDraftsTrash Can   Printer Friendly Version

Hi there,

The next edition of Green Pepper, due out late November is on "Borders"
Please find below an initial (and very broad) brainstorm of article ideas, 
welcome your contribution, ideas, articles, testimonies, cartoons, pics and
hands up to take on any of the ideas that follow!

Alex + Kevin

PS Feel free to forward to any other people you think might be interested!

Green Pepper ‘No Borders’ Edition – Brain storm, broad ideas…. Let’s go!!
Borders, Migration and Freedom of Movement…. Some ideas - -

16 articles + intro + other section at end = 32 pages [30 with calendar]
(dependent on money we could do more).

Intro/editorial - Ag + Kev

Throughout mag in boxes:: resistance and event profiles:
Borderhack, Mexico/USA, bordercamps Europe, Woomera etc
Sans-papiers self organisation, not simply victims with no agency,
The Voice, Roma Caravan, inside Woomera, (200 words)

** Background: the big three pager!– who moves? Why? How is movement
controlled? Why? A few stats, numbers and figures, maps and so on
Borderpanic – where did this issue shoot out from, why are we always now 
talking about migration, people have always moved – politics of fear and 
nationalism in an era of erosion of nation states…
Info boxes:: UNHCR – critique? – Environmental refugees not recognised as a 
genuine refugee / Laws – ie Germany, Schengan treaty, Fortress Europe etc
Good refugees/bad refugees – genuine non genuine
Map and story of journey - ie from Afghanistan to Australia – how do people 

** Anti-globalisation movement and no borders, to disassociate from the 
To compare the free movement of goods and capital to that of people

Borders of self and of identity, community identity, gender, sexuality
nationalism (see football teams/high school/towns/countries competitiveness) 
+ activist community,

How can a borderless world also encompass / deal with indigenous 
dispossession and redress colonial histories?

Racism/Sexism convergence. Tensions within communities – see cross over 
camp, incidents in movements in Europe

** State fuelled paranoia and borderpanic  – what are they getting out of 
Ie aust; cheaper house people in community, UK people think % of migration 
is much higher than it actually is etc
Glossary of disinformation, boat people, people smugglers, swamping,
flooding, etc

** Anomalies/contradictions/challenges to/with having a world without 
borders homogeneity/ true multiculturalism::
What do we really mean when we say No Borders?
How do we actually get to creating a borderless world?

** Electronic borders – the internet, surveillance, SIS etc – ASCII
Surveillance, documentation, papers, databases, SIS, etc

Women and migration, prositution, trade in women

** What can you do? Campaigns, local work, visiting, actions, etc
Contradiction of where you do actions (local with migrant 
communities/detention centres etc) and theories (broad anti-state etc)

** Roma – history of nomadic peoples, way they were portrayed – via Andrea

Activists and borders – testimonies

Borders/invasion/independence struggles/ post colonial contradications/ 
borders and sovereignity:
West Papua, - Marni ?
Indig – redraft of Eve’s woomera article? / Tony Birch
[Palestine, India-Pakistan-Kashmir-Bangladesh, Angola]

** Bordercamping is it just the new sexy thing? Evaluation/discuss of
strasbourg (Darren’s article / Paul) collage quotes style?

** Profiting from encarceration – look at the corps involved – Group 4,
Wackenhut, KLM, Lufthansa, Hotel Ibis etc – Adam CEO/Corporate Watch

Cartography – reproduce parts of the Biopolice maps – contact tangente uni

Forced migration – resettlement programs – see Indonesia and Javanese,
Palestine/Isreal settlements

Refugee camps, Afganistan/Pakistan border - music to the camps project Edin.

Bordercrossing art project - banff?

Personal testimonies

Look at:
No-one is Illegal book
No Nonsense Guide to International Migration
Borderpanic reader
Woomera scrapbook

- --
We fell in love in the wreckage, shouted out songs in the uproar, danced 
joyfully in the strongest shackles they could find ... we built castles in 
the sky from the ruins of hell on earth ...

MSN Photos is the easiest way to share and print your photos:


Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2002 20:46:48 +0100
From: matthew fuller <>
Subject: variant issue 15  (for announcer)

VARIANT, ISSUE 15, Summer 2002

..the free, independent, arts magazine.  In-depth coverage in the
context of broader social, political & cultural issues.

[click on the links below to go to a text version (html) or PDF of the
full article]

  A Lovely Curiosity, Raymond Roussel -- William Clark
In-depth look at the little know yet highly influential French, literary
figure and his complex methodology for writing.

  Asian Alternative Space -- Andrew Lam
Based in Hong Kong, Lam examines artist-run spaces, their
associated cultural production and impact on developments of
identity within Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul, Macau,

  Gareth Williams -- Ed Baxter
Obituary of founder member of This Heat, whose recalcitrant
experimentation led them far away from mainstream success.

  Dodgy Analogy -- John Barker
Thorough de-mystification and counter to the post-modernist use of
natural science analogies in (amongst other things) the
depoliticisation of inequality.

  An American Nurse & Humanitarian Aid Worker in Ramallah
"How long can the rest of the world watch this, doing nothing?"

  Tales of the Great Unwashed -- Ian Brotherhood
A thoughtful and provocative reflection on the social poverty, fear
and intimidation indicative of the casual labour, service industry
[Financial support in publishing a book of Ian Brotherhoods work
sought - suggestions of sources of funding appreciated.]

  Muslims and the West after September 11 -- Pervez Hoodbhoy
Based on a speech at the Center for Inquiry, International
Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, historical account and secular,
humanist response to Islamic Fundamentalism and US Imperialism.

  Desire and kind of Playfulness -- Copenhagen Free University,
Following in a long tradition of self-  worker-educational groups, the
CFU question the exclusion of personal knowledge, experience and
desire in the phantasmic 'knowledge economy'.

  Artists Initiatives in Moscow -- Gillian McIver
An overview of artist-run spaces in Moscow.  Despite their surface
similarities to such spaces in western europe, the commitment to
experimentation and differences in celebrity status remain stark.

  Collective Cultural Action -- Critical Art Ensemble
 From artists to activists, how people collectively organise to
overcome alienation and skewed power relations to achieve
concrete results.

  Zine and Comic reviews -- Mark Pawson
Strange print creations from Pawsons recent trip to Japan.

  The March: The story of the Historic Scottish Hunger March -- Harry
First hand account of a little known, momentous event in labor
history.  A true fight for social justice against poverty.

Following a refusal of Variants right to appeal, responses to the
Scottish Arts Councils legal assault on Variant and their false
assurances that their judgments are based solely on artistic merit.

  All articles, Variant, issue 15

- -----------------------------
  Variant is posted 3 times a year

To UNSUBSCRIBE from this mailing list please return a blank e-mail
with UNSUBSCRIBE in the header.

- -----------------------------
Variant issue 16 will cover the period December 2002 to March
contact Paula Larkin on +44(0)141 3339522 to advertise.
Full advertising details at:

- -----------------------------
  A fully accessible archive of back issues is freely available at the
Variant web site
  Magazine Subscription details can be found at-

1a Shamrock Street
Glasgow   G4 9JZ
t/f: +44(0)141 3339522


Date: Tue, 17 Sep 2002 21:28:57 -0700
From: John Jordan <>
Subject: argentinas popular rebellion ( new publication )

Que Se Vayan Todos: Argentina's Popular Rebellion. Part 1 and 2.
An eyewitness account of the financial meltdown and ongoing 
grassroots rebellion.

A NEW edition, with an update,  of the beautiful 16 page tabloid size 
publication, complete with fantastic full page images of the popular 
rebellion in Argentina has just been produced. If you would like 
copies write to - stating how many you 
would like, and your address. We have access to some free postage ( 
from the UK ) and the copies themselves are free, but dont go 
overboard as we ran out of copies very quickly last time.

( for those who already read part 1 - just skip email to part 2)

sorry for cross posting

The full text including part 2.

Que Se Vayan Todos: Argentina's Popular Rebellion. Part 1 and 2.
An eyewitness account of the financial meltdown and ongoing 
grassroots rebellion.

Part 1

Routines and Rebellions

15th Feb. 2002

Your tickets are invalid," says the heavily lipsticked agent at 
theVarig airlines check-in counter in southern Brazil. Her eyes flick 
to the next person in line. We protest vehemently, as we've had no 
problem using the tickets. She is not impressed, and calls for her 
manager, who explains to us that Varig no longer recognizes the 
reciprocity of any tickets issued through Aerolineas Argentina. "They 
cannot be trusted now," she informs us gravely, showing us the memo 
announcing the new policy. "We no longer do business with them." This 
is our first experience of the rippling effects of the Argentinean 
financial crisis.
	At the Aerolineas Argentina ticket counter, the agent is 
friendly, and seems a bit embarrassed. He books us tickets on the 
next flight to Buenos Aires. His demeanor suggests that of a man who 
does not know if he will have a job tomorrow. We board the plane, 
hoping that the massive layoffs and budget cuts have not reached air 
traffic control, aerospace engineering, safety inspection, and other 
related sectors. We arrive safely, get ourselves a cheap hotel, and 
bleary-eyed, head out for a coffee.
	In the corner of the cafe a television with the volume down 
is tuned into the Cronica channel - a uniquely Argentinean phenomenon 
- - non-stop live trashy "news," seemingly unedited, with unbelievably 
bad and erratic camera work, and featuring the same lone reporter who 
seems to pop up all over town at random. Our introduction to Cronica 
is "live and direct" scenes from the beach, complete with close-up 
shots of thongs which zoom out and reveal beach volleyball games and 
languid sunbathers. There's a massive social rebellion going on in 
this country, and the news is live and direct from the beach!
	After about 20 minutes of beach footage, it cuts to the news 
studio. Two "presenters" appear, in the form of shockingly 
pink-haired puppets! This is beyond ridiculous, here we are, 
desperate for news of the rebellion, and all we can get is puppet 
shows and thongs. After some "live and direct" from the local 
football team's practice, we finally are rewarded with images of 
people banging pots and pans while invading the lobby of a bank. We 
quickly drink up our coffee, ask the waiter how to get to the 
financial district, jump on a bus, and arrive there in minutes.
	Financial districts look much the same all over the world, 
whether in the City of London, New York, or Frankfurt, but here in 
Buenos Aires there is one major difference - huge corrugated sheets 
of steel cover many of the bank headquarters, especially the foreign 
ones, like Citibank, HSBC, and Lloyds. Gone are the grand entrance 
halls; the prestigious shiny surfaces of glass and marble are hidden 
behind blank facades of grey steel, and the only access is through 
tiny doors cut into the sheet metal, through which suited figures 
pass, heads bowed, entering these fortresses as if banking has become 
a secretive, clandestine activity.
	The strong smell of wet paint hangs in the air, fresh 
graffiti covers the steel shuttering and walls, saying "ladrones," or 
thieves. The action can't be far away. We split up and scout the 
area, listening  for the clang of metal upon metal, the ineffable 
noise that has become the soundtrack to this rebellion, but hear 
nothing, find nothing. It seems that we are too late.

Economic Freefall

We've arrived on a Friday. Every Friday night since mid-December last 
year, there has been a massive cacerolazo in Buenos Aires, when the 
people converge in the political center of the city, the Plaza de 
Mayo, and create an enormous racket by banging on cacerolas, or 
saucepans. These huge cacerolazos developed spontaneously on the 19th 
of December 2001, the day when the uprising exploded, after 
smoldering in the provinces for several years, and now involving just 
about every sector of Argentinean society.
	Argentina suffered two and a half decades of International 
Monetary Fund-(IMF) backed "free-market reforms," which meant 
privatizing everything: water, telephone systems, postal services, 
railways, electricity - you name it - even the zoo was privatized. 
When the Asian and Russian markets crashed in 1998, foreign 
investment dried up in the so-called "emerging markets." Argentina 
was hit badly, a major recession struck, and foreign lenders asked 
for their money back, on time.
	According to the IMF, the only way the Argentinean government 
could repay the $132 billion debt, some of which dated from the 
military dictatorship, was by making more cuts in social spending, 
especially as many people, sick of political corruption, had stopped 
paying their taxes. Pensions, unemployment benefits, health care, and 
education all were cut drastically, and all state employees had their 
salaries slashed by 13%. It was the same old story  repeated across 
the world - as countries are forced into deeper and deeper debt, the 
IMF strip mines their economies for the benefit of foreign banks and 
bond traders.
	In fact, it was the bond markets, unsatisfied with the pace 
of the austerity plans, who proved to be even harsher task masters 
than the IMF. Unlike the IMF, they never bothered to send delegations 
to negotiate, they simply jacked up interest rates on debt issuances, 
in some instances from 9% to 14% in a fortnight.
	Now, after four years of recession, one out of every five 
Argentineans is unemployed, and some economists say this could soon 
double. 40% of the population is now living below the poverty line, 
and another 2000 people fall below it every day. Hospitals are 
running out of basic supplies like bandages and syringes, schools are 
shutting down because teachers aren't being paid, child mortality and 
hunger is on the rise, and this is all occurring in what once was one 
of the wealthiest countries in the world, for decades considered the 
great success story of neoliberal development in the "developing" 
world, the star pupil of the "Washington Consensus," and the main 
advocate for free trade in the region.
	As the recession worsened, Argentinean stock plummeted, and 
the unpopular austerity measures became increasingly vicious. 
Protests spread further across the country. Things climaxed in 
December 2001 when, grasping for straws, the government decided to 
try a complicated re negotiation of its debt repayments. Fearful that 
the entire economic house of cards was going to come tumbling down 
and that the currency would be devalued, thus wiping out their life 
savings, the middle classes panicked and withdrew about $135 billion 
from their bank accounts.

Fearing that a run on the banks would sink the economy, the detested 
finance minister, Domingo Cavallo, announced sweeping restrictions 
limiting the amount of money Argentineans could withdraw from their 
accounts. Known as the corralito, these measures included a monthly 
limit of $1000 on cash withdrawals in addition to caps on off-shore 
transfers. With all the facets of the crisis interlocking, the 
economy was effectively paralyzed.
	The IMF freaked out, due to the banking restrictions and the 
debt repayment plan, which would severely impact foreign banks, as 
they own 40% of Argentina's debt. They refused to lend any more 
money, and within weeks Argentina defaulted on its loans, the first 
time a country had done so in years. From this moment the economy was 
in free fall. On the 13th of December, a general strike called by 
major unions brought the country to a grinding halt for 24 hours. Six 
days later the popular rebellion exploded into the streets, where it 
remains today.

The Tin Pot Insurection

December the 19th was the turning point, the day when the Argentinean 
people said "enough!" The stage was set the day before, when people 
began looting shops and supermarkets so they could feed their 
families. The president, Fernando De La Rua, panicked. Twelve years 
ago, major looting toppled the government, and now, within the 
Argentinean collective memory, looting is linked to the collapse of 
regimes. De La Rua declared a state of emergency, suspending all 
constitutional rights, and banning meetings of more than three 
people. That was the last straw. Not only did it bring back traumatic 
memories of the seven year military dictatorship which killed over 
30,000 people, but also it meant that the state was taking away the 
last shred of dignity from a hungry and desperate population - their 
	On the evening of December 19th, our friend Ezequiel was on 
the phone with his brother who lives on the other side of Buenos 
Aires. They were casually chatting, when his brother suddenly said, 
"Hang on, can you hear that noise?" Ezequiel strained to hear a kind 
of clanging sound coming through the receiver." Yes, I can hear 
something on your side of the city but nothing here." They continued 
talking, and then Ezequiel paused, and said, "Wait, now I can hear 
something in my neighborhood, the same sound...." He ran to the 
	People were standing on their balconies banging saucepans, 
were coming out onto the sidewalks banging pots; like a virulent 
virus of hope, the cacerolazo, which began as a response to the state 
of emergency, had infected the entire city. Before the president's 
televised announcement of the state of emergency was over, people 
were in the streets disobeying it. Over a million people took part in 
Buenos Aires alone, banging their pots and pans and demanding an end 
to neoliberal policies and corrupt governments. That night the 
finance minister resigned, and over the next 24 hours of street 
protest, plainclothes policemen killed seven demonstrators in the 
city, while 15 more were killed in the provinces. The president 
resigned shortly thereafter, and was evacuated from the presidential 
palace by helicopter.
	Within a fortnight four more governments fell. Argentina was 
now set on a major high-speed collision course, with the needs and 
desires of its people on one side, and the demands of the IMF, the 
inept government, and global capitalism on the other.

Rivers of Sound

15th Feb. 2002

Our friends tell us to meet them for tonight's cacerolazo in the cafe 
of the  Popular University of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo. The place 
is an enormous social centre, right opposite the national congress 
building, and is run by the well-known mothers of the disappeared, 
whose courageous actions brought to the attention of the world the 
mass disappearances during the military dictatorship between 1976 and 
	Surrounded by shelves crammed with books, journals, and 
newspapers documenting radical Latin American political struggles, we 
drink the quintessential Argentinean drink of health and friendship, 
yerba mate, an extraordinary herbal infusion that increases energy 
and mental alertness and is believed to contain all of the vitamins 
necessary to sustain life. The warm drink is served in a gourd with a 
silver straw and is passed around and shared between friends. No 
political meeting in Argentina is complete without mate, and some of 
us wonder whether this seemingly innocuous green twiggy tea is the 
secret ingredient behind this country's inspirational rebellion.
	Night falls, and before long we begin to hear the repetitive 
rhythm of pot-and-pan banging drift across the square. A small crowd 
of around fifty people has congregated in the street - they are 
young, old, rich, poor, smartly dressed, scruffy, but all are armed 
with spoons, forks, and a whole variety of metal objects to hit: 
cooking pots, lids, kettles, Coke cans, car parts, biscuit tins, iron 
bars, baking trays, car keys. The rhythm is high pitched and 
monotonous, and above it people sing catchy tunes instead of dull 
political chanting; often they include the key slogan of this 
movement: que se vayan todos, they all must go, meaning that the 
ENTIRE political class goes, every politician from every party, the 
supreme court, the IMF, the multinational corporations, the banks - 
everyone out so the people can decide the fate of this economically 
crippled country themselves.
	Our friend Eva tells us that the movement has lost some of 
its momentum over the last few weeks. We admit to being surprised by 
how small this crowd is - having imagined the cacerolazos to be 
enormous. But as we're thinking this, we reach a crossroads. To our 
right we see another crowd, perhaps twice as big as ours, coming 
towards us, waving and cheering. We continue for a few more blocks, 
and on the next street corner another stream of people flows out from 
the underground station, singing and jumping up and down as it merges 
with our group, another junction and yet more people come towards us.
	We began as 50, grew to a hundred or more, then we were two 
hundred, then five, then a thousand, two thousand, perhaps more. 
Rivers of people pouring into each other, growing bigger and bigger, 
rising to a roaring, banging torrent as we near the final 
destination, the Plaza de Mayo, where the presidential palace, the 
Pink House, stands protected behind police lines and barricades.

The Neighbourhoods Rise

Every week people make this pilgrimage, from every corner of Buenos 
Aires, some of them coming as far as seven kilometres. They walk with 
their asembleas populares, the neighborhood meetings which have 
spontaneously sprouted up over the last few months in over 200 
different neighborhoods in the city, and throughout the surrounding 
provinces. These assemblies are rapidly becoming autonomous centres 
of community participation. Most meet weekly (the more ambitious, 
twice a week!), and all meet outside - in squares, parks, and even on 
street corners.
	Every Sunday there is an assembly of assemblies, an 
inter-neighborhood plenary in a park, attended by over 4000 people 
and often running for more than 4 hours. Spokespeople from rich, 
poor, and middle class districts attend to report back on the work 
and proposals of their local assemblies, share ideas, and debate 
strategy for the following week's city-wide mobilizations.
	The local assemblies are open to almost anyone, although one 
assembly has banned bankers and party activists, and others have 
banned the media. Some assemblies have as many as  200 people 
participating, others are much smaller. One of the assemblies we 
attended had about 40 people present, ranging from two mothers 
sitting on the sidewalk while breast feeding, to a lawyer in a suit, 
to a skinny hippie in batik flares, to an elderly taxi driver, to a 
dreadlocked bike messenger, to a nursing student. It was a whole 
slice of Argentinean society standing in a circle on a street corner 
under the orange glow of sodium lights, passing around a brand new 
megaphone and discussing how to take back control of their lives. 
Every now and then a car would pass by and beep its horn in support, 
and this was all happening between 8pm and midnight on a Wednesday 
	It all seemed so normal, and yet was perhaps the most 
extraordinary radical political event I'd ever witnessed - ordinary 
people seriously discussing self-management, spontaneously 
understanding direct democracy and beginning to put it into practice 
in their own neighborhoods. Multiply this by 200 in this city alone, 
and you have the makings of an irresistible popular rebellion, a 
grassroots uprising which is rejecting centralized political power. 
As Roli, an accountant from the Almagro assembly said: "People reject 
the political parties. To get out of this crisis requires real 
politics. These meetings of common people on the street are the 
fundamental form of doing politics."
	Outside of the weekly meetings, the assemblies meet in 
smaller committees, each one dedicated to a different local issue or 
problem. Committees of health are common - with many local hospital 
budgets slashed, there is an urgent need to develop alternatives to 
the collapsing welfare system. Some are suggesting that people who 
own their own homes withhold their property tax, and instead give 
that money to the local hospitals. Many assemblies also have 
alternative media committees, as there is a widespread critique of 
the mainstream media's representation of the rebellion. It took a 
large cacerolazo outside their head offices to get them to cover the 
uprising more accurately. However, the spirit of distrust for any 
enormous corporate entity remains at large, and local assemblies are 
beginning to print their own news sheets, broadcast updates on local 
radio stations, and put up web sites.
	In addition to the innumerable meetings and the weekly 
cacerolazo, the assemblies also organize local street parties and 
actions. In one neighborhood, for example, the assembly organized 
pickets to prevent the authorities from closing down a baker who 
could not afford to pay his rent.
	For many of the assembly participants, this is the first time 
they have been involved in any form of grassroots mobilization in 
their lives. By creating a space for people to listen to each other's 
problems and desires for change, the assemblies have enabled people 
to realize that their personal daily struggles are connected to other 
people's problems, and that all roads eventually lead to a similar 
source, whether it is the government, the banks, the IMF, or the 
entire economic system itself. An elderly shopkeeper, whose 
experience is representative of many participants, said "Never in my 
whole life did I give a shit for anyone else in my neighborhood. I 
was not interested in politics. But this time I realized that I have 
had enough and I needed to do something about it."
	For radical change to occur, transformation has to take place 
in our minds as well as in social structures, and it is often on the 
tongue through the tool of language that one can trace some of the 
most radical shifts in consciousness. A beautiful illustration of 
this is that out of the experience of the assemblies, a new form of 
greeting has arisen. The traditional political leftist form of 
greeting in Latin American culture, compañero, or comrade, has been 
rejected in favor of a new form of address, vecino, or neighbor. It's 
a simple trick of the tongue, but one which signifies a major shift 
away from an authoritarian politics based on power and parties 
towards a participatory politics made up of people and places.

Converging Currents

15th Feb. 2002

The raging torrent of sound finally arrives at the packed Plaza de 
Mayo. The mouth of each avenue feeding into the square is flooded 
with thousands of people cheering the arrival of each assembly. 
Banner after banner passes by, some roughly painted and others 
carefully lettered , but each bearing the neighborhood's name and the 
time and place of the meeting.
	The repetitive metallic rhythm fills the night. Some people 
grow bored of hitting their pots and start to bang on lamposts or 
railings, others pound on the barricade which splits the square in 
half, behind which stand a symbolic row of riot policemen protecting 
the Pink House. Singing of the movement's anthem breaks out 
periodically, rising above the sound of the saucepans, voices crying, 
"They all must go, not a single one should remain, Duhalde must go 
back up his mother's cunt," sung with equal ebullience by elderly 
women, youthful punks, unemployed refinery workers, and middle class 
	Young kids are busy covering the walls with graffiti; hardly 
a surface of this city remains that does not carry some phrase or 
slogan of resistance. The outline of a coffin is drawn with the word 
"politicians" inside; a ministry building proclaims "My saucepan is 
not bullet proof;" the closed shutters of a shop declare "Popular 
assemblies - go out into the streets and claim what is rightfully 
	In the Plaza de Mayo, people are incredibly open, happy to 
talk with us, readily telling us stories, and repeatedly emphasizing 
how important it is that we document their struggle and show it to 
the world. The diversity of the crowd astonishes us - it seems that 
every walk of life is represented, and while we struggle to grasp the 
contradictions we perceive, we meet Pablo, a 30 year old employee of 
Bank Boston, who tells us, "By day I must work as a capitalist, but 
at night I'm a socialist. I've been a socialist for a long time, 
since my father was disappeared when I was six years old." His father 
was a university student of sociology, and was not particularly 
political, but was dumped in the Río Plata all the same at age 22, 
leaving behind an 18 year old wife and his six year old son.
	It is this which is particularly poignant, the fact that 
every one of these people who is over thirty is living with some 
memory of the dictatorship, has lost some people from their immediate 
family, (or at least knows someone who did), they know how bad things 
can get, how disappearances serve to terrify a population in ways 
that we, with only prisons and courts as official deterrence, can't 
dream of. This popular collective memory seems to permeate every 
aspect of this rebellion. Although the continuity of the lineage of 
resistance has been severely damaged, people seem deeply committed to 
doing the hard work of rebuilding a movement that was, until 
recently, in shambles, a movement that was long lulled to sleep by 
fearful memories not yet dulled by the passage of time, lulled to 
sleep by neoliberal promises and privatized dreams, convinced that 
without following the "rules of the market," the country was sure to 
return to the dark days of dicatorship.
	But not everyone is so sympathetic. "They had it coming," is 
a constant refrain from their Uruguayan neighbors, "They thought that 
they were European," and it's true that Buenos Aires feels much more 
like Paris than like São Paolo. However, the seemingly first-world 
status was propped up on credit and sustained by loans and a national 
refusal to recognize the symptoms of imminent collapse. Upon 
returning home, a Chicano activist tells us, "That's what's so 
important about the uprising. It's Latin Americanizing Argentina. 
Argentina is remembering where it is on the map."
	Time after time when we asked people in their neighborhood 
meetings, or during cacerolazos, "Do you think that people here have 
participated in resistance movements in the past?" the answer was an 
emphatic no, often with the postscript that the near-complete loss of 
a generation through disappearance and exile meant that there were 
few people in the country with any prior experience of organizing 
much of anything.
	Extraordinary to imagine, and contrary to everything we 
thought we knew, to find that a people with so little foundation, so 
little affinity for each other, coming from such a place of apathy 
and individualism, followed by outrage and despair, could so rapidly 
and intuitively develop forms of organization that are inherently 
disobedient, inherently directly democratic, and inherently utopian.
	Although this scene in the Plaza de Mayo is repeated every 
Friday night, tonight's cacerolazo is special. For the first time, 
the piqueteros, or literally, picketers, will be joining the 
cacerolazo. The piqueteros are Argentina's militant movement of 
unemployed workers, who launched this social rebellion five years ago.

The Power of the Piqueteros

Born out of frustration with the corruption and constant political 
compromises of official unions and the failure of all political 
parties to represent them, the piqueteros (the term refers to their 
common tactic of road blockades) grew out of the excluded and 
impoverished communities in the provinces. They are predominantly 
unemployed workers who have been organizing autonomously in their 
suburban barrios, the neighborhood districts which are key to many 
Argentineans sense of place and identity.
	Demanding jobs, food, education, and health care, they began 
taking direct action in the mid 1990s, blocking highways across the 
country. The action of blocking the flow of commodities was seen as 
the key way to disrupt economic activity; as they were unemployed, 
the option to strike was no longer available to them, but by blocking 
roads they could still have an enormously disruptive effect on the 
economic system. One of them explained, "We see that the way 
capitalism operates is through the circulation of goods. Obstructing 
the highways is the way to hurt the capitalist the most. Therefore, 
we who have nothing - our way to make them pay the costs and show 
that we will not give up and die for their ambitions, is to create 
difficulties by obstructing the large routes of distribution."
	"We block the streets. We make that part of the streets ours. 
We use wood, tires, and petrol to burn," adds Alejandro 
enthusiastically. He is a young piquetero who sports the red and 
black bandanna of the MTD (Unemployed Worker's Movement) around his 
neck and carries the three foot wooden club that has become one of 
the symbols of this movement. "We do it like this because it is the 
only way they acknowledge us. If we stood protesting on the sidewalk, 
they would trample all over us."
	These tactics have proved extraordinarily successful. Whole 
families take part in the blockades, setting up collective kitchens 
and tents in the middle of the street. Many of the participants are 
young, and over 60% are women. Over the years this loosely federated 
autonomous movement has managed to secure thousands of temporary 
minimum wage jobs, food allowances, and other concessions from the 
state. The police are often unable to clear the pickets because of 
the popular support they receive. The highways often run beside 
shantytowns on the edges of the cities, and there is always a threat 
that any repression against the piqueteros would bring thousands of 
people streaming out of these areas onto the road in support, 
provoking much more serious confrontations.
	In August 2001, a nation-wide mobilization of piqueteros 
managed to shut down over 300 highways across the country. Over 
100,000 unemployed workers participated and the economy was 
effectively paralyzed. Thousands were arrested and five killed, but 
the movement continued building momentum and has broken new ground in 
its use of non-hierarchical grassroots forms of organizing.
	The spirit of autonomy and direct democracy that exists in 
the urban neighborhood assemblies, was practiced by the piqueteros 
years before, as they share a similar healthy distrust of all 
executive power. Each municipality has its own organization centered 
around the neighborhoods, and all decision of policy and strategy are 
decided at piquetero assemblies. If the government decides to 
negotiate during an action, the piqueteros do not delegate leaders to 
go off and meet with government officials, but instead, demand that 
the officials come to the blockades so the people can all discuss 
their demands, and collectively decide whether to accept or decline 
any forthcoming offers. Too often they have seen leaders and 
delegates contaminated, bought off, corrupted, or otherwise tainted 
by power, and they have decided that the way around this is to 
develop radical horizontal structures.
	The primary demands are usually the creation of some 
temporary state-funded jobs, and once these are secured, the 
piqueteros decide collectively who gets these jobs, based on need and 
time spent helping with blockades. If there are not enough to go 
around, they rotate the jobs and share the wages. Other demands 
normally follow:  distribution of food parcels, liberation of some of 
the hundreds of jailed piqueteros, public investment in local 
infrastructure such as roads, health, education.
	A friend shows us video footage of a passionate woman on last 
week's piquetero blockade of an oil refinery. She sits behind a 
barricade of burning tires, teeth missing beneath bright piercing 
eyes, and declares, "Yes this is dangerous, of course it is 
dangerous, but we need to fight, we cannot go home because no one is 
going to bring anything to our, food for our 
children, the schools that are now disappearing, the 
see, if I get hurt now and I go to hospital, they don't even have the 
bandages to help me.  So if we stop the struggle, all the things will 
disappear....we have to keep struggling."
	In some parts of Argentina, the piqueteros have created 
quasi-liberated zones, where their ability to mobilize is far more 
influential than anything the local government is able to do. In 
General Mosconi, formerly a rich oil town in the far north, which now 
suffers with a more than 40% unemployment rate, the movement has 
taken things into its own hands and is running over 300 different 
projects, including bakeries, organic gardens, clinics, and water 
	What is extraordinary is that these radical actions, 
practiced by some of the most excluded and impoverished people in 
Argentina and using extremely militant tactics and imagery - burning 
barricades, blocked roads, masked-up demonstrators wielding clubs - 
have not alienated other sections of society. In fact, support comes 
from all across the movement.
"When people get angry, they rule with blood, fire, and sweat," 
explains a young piquetero, wearing a "Punk's Not Dead" t-shirt 
across his face as a mask. "We lost seven comrades in Plaza de Mayo. 
They had no political banner or ideology, they were only young 
Argentineans and wanted freedom. Then the government understood that 
people wanted to kick them out.... Those  that are up there in power 
are very worried that they can no longer order us around as before. 
Now people say 'enough.' We got together all social classes, from 
workers to unemployed, to say 'enough is enough,' together with 
people that have $100,000 and that can't take it out of the bank, 
people that broke their backs working to save up, together with us 
that maybe don't even have any food to eat. We are all Argentineans, 
all under the same banner, and don't want this to happen again.." A 
young piquetera named Rosa puts it more succinctly: "When women no 
longer have the resources to feed their children, the government is 
coming down, no matter what type of government it is."

La Lucha es una Sola

15th Feb. 2002

Tonight, we are privileged to watch the different currents of this 
struggle as they converge in the Plaza de Mayo. Suddenly there is a 
commotion in the corner of the square, which ripples through the 
crowd as all eyes turn to witness the arrival of the piqueteros, 
heroic, like a liberating army entering the city. Masked-up, 
tattooed, and fierce, each carries a stick of iron or of wood, which 
they hold together to form a cordon around themselves. They are 
greeted with an enormous cheer as they flow into the square with an 
energy and attitude which is forceful, raw, and urgent. Fireworks 
explode over the crowd as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo come 
forward to greet them, their small elderly faces framed in the white 
head scarf bearing the name of their disappeared children. Rising 
above the crowd are the royal blue and white flags of the Mothers on 
one side and the wooden clubs of the piqueteros on the other. Framed 
by their trademark symbols, they embrace, and the night resonates 
with the chant from the entire plaza, "Piquete y cacerolazo, la lucha 
es una sola," picket and cacerolazo, the struggle is the same.
	What we are seeing tonight is an incredible coming together 
of differences, a convergence that crosses so many boundaries of 
class and culture. It seems that every social sector involved in this 
rebellion is beginning to work together, and support each other. 
Revolutionary epochs are always periods of convergence - they are 
moments when seemingly separate processes gather to form a socially 
explosive crisis. Argentina is explosive right now - anything could 
happen - it's an enormous social experiment that could well prove to 
be the first great popular rebellion against capitalism of the 21st 
	By four in the morning the square has emptied. The crowd has 
slowly melted away, returning to their neighborhoods, and the city is 
silent again. Clusters of young people sit around on the grass 
talking, drinking, smoking - it could have been any Friday night out, 
in any city, but for the people painting the plaza with the names of 
those killed in December, or the small group huddled over a mobile 
silk-screen printing press, taking turns printing dozens of t-shirts 
with the simple slogan yo decido, I decide.

Politics Without Parties

16th Feb. 2002

We wake up the next morning to hear that the Pope has declared 
Argentina to be in a "pre-anarchic" situation. He seems to be 
following in the footsteps of President Duhalde, who in the first 
week of February said, "Argentina is on the brink of anarchy." Weeks 
later, the finance minister chimes in, telling a meeting of 
international bankers, "Either we have continuity or anarchy." Funny 
how that word gets thrown around whenever power begins to feel 
	It seems that they are using "anarchy" to conjure up the 
spectre of chaos, destruction, disobedience, nihilism, the collapse 
of law and order. It is doubtful they are using it to describe the 
authentic spirit of anarchism, which has spontaneously arisen on the 
street corners, and in the parks and squares of Argentina: the simple 
desire of people to live without rulers, remaining  free to govern 
	What is so refreshing is that this spirit has developed so 
spontaneously, and that no one, except a few tired old politicos (and 
the state of course), is using the word anarchism. This is perhaps 
surprising, given that Argentina had the world's largest anarchist 
movement at the dawn of the twentieth century. But no one needs 
another "ism" from the 19th century, another word which imprisons and 
fixes meaning, another word that seduces some people into the clarity 
and comfort of a sectarian box, and leads others in front of a firing 
squad or a show trial. Labels lead so easily to fundamentalism, 
brands inevitably breed intolerance, delineating  doctrines, defining 
dogma, limiting the possibility of change.

 From Rebellion to Reconstruction

There has been a clear pattern of rebellion against the IMF across 
the world over the last decades. From Indonesia to Nigeria, and 
Ecuador to Morocco, people have vented their desperation and anger 
against austerity measures which have destroyed their livelihoods. 
Riots have erupted, sometimes the military is sent in, occasionally 
governments fall, but inevitably the IMF remains and austerity 
programs continue. Nothing changes, except for the growth of poverty 
and mistrust.
	In the Buenos Aires Herald, we read a timely article about a 
new computer game called "Playing Minister" in which you replace the 
Brazilian economic minister, and are charged with keeping the country 
on an even keel in the face of emerging market crises, domestic bank 
collapses and currency devaluation. The game, according to its 
creator, is designed to "test your skills at juggling interest rates, 
controlling inflation, balancing budgets and managing debts." 
Apparently managing the accompanying health care crises and the food 
riots are not a part of the challenge when "Playing Minister."
	During a recent interview, investigative journalist Greg 
Palast revealed how useful these riots are to the IMF. Palast relayed 
a conversation he had with Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist of 
the World Bank:  "'...everywhere we go, every country we end up 
meddling in, we destroy their economy and they end up in flames,' 
said Stiglitz. And he was saying that he questioned this and he got 
fired for it. But he was saying that they even kind of plan in the 
riots. They know that when they squeeze a country and destroy its 
economy, you are going to get riots in the streets. And they say, 
'well that's the "IMF riot."' In other words, because  you have 
riots, you lose. All the capital runs away from your country, and 
that gives the opportunity for the IMF to then add more conditions."
	What the IMF doesn't expect and certainly doesn't want, is 
for people to take things into their own hands, for them to shift 
from resistance to reconstruction, from the desperation and rage of 
rioting to the joy of creating alternatives. As the economic crisis 
tears into the social fabric of Argentina, pushing more and more 
people to the edge, the tension between hope and despair becomes a 
conducive and creative space for change. Between laughter and tears 
exists the space of optimism, the space of radical social 
	For the workers of the Zanón ceramics factory in Neuque, it 
is this spirit of optimism that has enabled them to occupy their 
factory, one of Latin America's largest ceramics producers, for the 
last six months, running it with astounding results. The company 
stopped production last year, claiming that it was no longer 
profitable and that they could no longer pay the workers' salaries. 
Rather than join the growing ranks of Argentina's unemployed, the 
workers decided to occupy the factory and keep the production lines 
running themselves.
	"We showed that with two days' worth of production, we were 
able to pay the wages of all the workers for that month," explained 
Godoy, one of the 326 workers involved in the occupation, thus 
exposing the realities of where the company profits were really 
going. The workers market the tiles at 60% of the previous prices and 
have organized a network of young vendors who sell them in the city. 
José Romero, a maintenance worker at the factory, adds, "This fight 
has opened our eyes to a lot of things."
	Like so many in this movement, they are critical of 
hierarchical forms of organization. Godoy continues,  "Now we have no 
full-time officials. The officials work eight hours like everyone 
else and we do our union activity after hours. The decisions are all 
made at general assemblies of workers, not behind closed doors." 
Photographs of the occupied factory show workers laughing and joking 
as they pull tiles out of the kilns. In Ursula Le Guin's 
extraordinary novel, The Dispossessed, which is perhaps the most 
tangible and touching description of an anti-authoritarian society in 
the English language, the word for work and play are the same. It 
seems the workers of Zanón have begun to make this dream a reality.
	Meanwhile, a mine in Río Turbío has been occupied, as well as 
a textile factory in Buenos Aires, which recently opened its doors 
for an International Women's Day festival. These worker-run endeavors 
are setting examples for Argentinean factories everywhere, and 
perhaps setting precedents on ways of doing business in the "new" 
Argentina. One manufacturer, who was on the verge of bankruptcy, 
called together his workers and told them that since he could no 
longer pay their salaries he would instead turn over blankets 
produced in the factory which the workers could either sell or take 
to the local barter markets, to exchange for other commodities. 
Perhaps he was worried by the example set at Zanón, or perhaps he is 
beginning to recognize the futility of continuing business as usual 
in such unusual times.

Popular Economics

16th Feb. 2002

It is in the barter markets where another extraordinary example of 
necessity breeding ingenuity is enabling Argentineans to survive the 
crisis. We visit the Trueque La Estación, or The Station Exchange, 
that takes place twice a week in a four story community centre on the 
outskirts of the city, where we are shown around by Ana, a shy 
engineer wearing thick glasses. "The politicians have stolen 
everything from the people, they want to control everybody," she 
explains. "People come here because they don't want to be in the 
	The place is bustling; we can hardly move through the jovial 
throngs of people perusing the rows of tables offering goods and 
services. You can buy anything here, or rather, you can exchange 
anything here, from eggs to bumper stickers, miniskirts to spices, 
cucumbers to crocheted toilet roll holders, as long as you use the 
barter's own currency - small brightly colored notes which look a bit 
like Monopoly money.
	The system is simple:  people take their products to the 
market and sell them for barter credit. The vendor is then able to 
use this to purchase products they need in return. If you have 
nothing to exchange and want to participate, you must buy credits 
from a bank with cash. But most people have something to trade, if 
they are imaginative enough, and though these people are deeply 
lacking in cash, they have a surplus of imagination.
	Piles of bric-a-brac cover some tables, while others have 
neat and ordered displays. A young woman sits behind a pile of 
underwear reading Nietzsche while a mother carrying her child in a 
sling does a swift trade in home baked pies. On one table Frederick 
Forsyth novels jostle for space with the Argentinean equivalent of 
Hello magazine and books about the Spanish Civil War. Huddled beside 
the stairs, an indigenous Bolivian family chat over wooden boxes of 
fresh vegetables. On the top floor a doctor in a pristine white coat 
offers to take our blood pressure, while a dentist demonstrates some 
procedure using a lurid pair of false teeth. People are having their 
haircut in one room while manicures and tarot readings are offered in 
another. There are classes in technical drawing as well as 
immigration advisement. Occasionally the trueque radio station (which 
"broadcasts" through a crackly PA system) announces new services 
being offered.
	These barter clubs began in 1995, when the recession began to 
be felt. Since then they developed into a whole network and are now 
known as nodos, meaning nodes, or points of concentration. Currently 
there are several thousand nodos in existence throughout the country, 
with well over two million people taking part. For many of them it 
has become the only way of surviving the economic crisis.
	As we leave the building we pass a stall holder with whom we 
spoke during the afternoon, a strikingly tall, elegantly dressed 
woman in her mid-forties. She waves good-bye, her dark eyes filled 
with resigned sadness, in sharp contrast to the overall conviviality 
of the place, and her lips silently form the words, "We are hungry."

Beware the Bourgeois Block

18th Fe. 2002

It's noon on a Monday, and we are on Florida Avenue, the main 
pedestrian shopping street of Buenos Aires, no different from 
London's Oxford Street, with its numerous McDonald's, Tower Records 
and Benettons. This busy street, normally full of bankers and 
business people making quick lunch time purchases, runs along the 
edge of the financial district. But today something is not quite 
normal. The rustle of shopping bags is drowned out by a deafening 
	A crowd of about 200 people are beating the steel sheet metal 
that protects the entrance of a bank. They bang with hammers, ladles, 
monkey wrenches, one woman even removes her shoe to use as a tool. 
The entire facade of the building shudders under the fury of the 
raining vibration of the blows. The force of some of the tools 
manages to punch gaping holes straight through the metal, agile 
gloved hands prise the sheets apart. Suddenly the armor falls away 
and the crowd cheers.
	A handful of people split off and invade a bank lobby across 
the street. Within a fraction of a second all six ATM machines are 
systematically smashed, shattered glass flies, and a woman sprays the 
word "chorros," or crooks, in huge letters on the marble wall. 
Nervous bank employees watch the scene from behind a glass door; an 
egg sails through the air and breaks against it. The bankers flinch, 
then turn away.
	The crowd repeats the accusatory chant, "Ladrones, ladrones," 
or thieves, and then join in a longer chant, while jumping 
ecstatically up and down, waving portfolios and briefcases around. 
The chant translates loosely as "Whoever is not jumping is a banker, 
whoever is not jumping is a thief...." When this dies down, everyone 
casually exits the lobby and moves on to the next bank, less than 
fifty yards up the street.
	These kind of tactics have become archetypes of contemporary 
protest: the shattered glass, graffiti smeared across bank walls, the 
corporate symbols of capital destroyed. Images like these have been 
imbedded in our imagination over the past few years, placed there by 
the mega-machine of mainstream media in its attempt to divide, 
discredit, and attack the growing anticapitalist movement, which is 
increasingly referred to as "terrorist thugs", "violent anarchists," 
and "mindless mob." From London to Genoa, via Seattle, Prague, and 
Québec City, it has been the same story, the same images, the same 
rituals of symbolic destruction, played out over and over again; a 
high drama which effectively sells newspapers when splashed across 
the front page, and which serves to distract from the real issues at 
hand. However, here in Buenos Aires, things are very, very, different.
	For one thing, it was impossible to tell the demonstrators 
from the passersby. Men in suits and ties with briefcases in one hand 
and hammers in the other, women with gold bracelets, hand bags, and 
high heels sharing cans of spray paint, anonymous suits on their 
lunch break joining the fracas and then melting back into the crowd. 
Walking through the pedestrian zone was astonishing - not only was it 
impossible to tell who was who, but also, businesses remained open, 
leaving their doors and windows open, fearless of looting or damage, 
as it was perfectly clear that the targets were the banks and nothing 
but the banks. Even McDonald's, usually having the honor of being the 
first to lose its windows, left their door open, solely guarded by 
the customary single private security guard.
	Another major difference is that this is not the black bloc - 
in fact there are no hooded sweatshirts to be seen. No one is masked, 
although one woman covers her face with a newspaper and large 
sunglasses, understandable if you've survived the disappearance of 
30,000 of your fellow citizens. The spirit of "militant" (and often, 
macho) clandestinity is completely absent. It is broad daylight - 
while the bank is being trashed, shoppers are buying tennis shoes 
next door, and the handful of police, unable to do anything, stand 
idly, watching sheepishly. This is the most open, accountable, and 
disciplined property damage (one can hardly call it a riot when the 
police don't fight back) that we've ever witnessed. It's also 
probably the most surreal. If one must call these people a bloc, and 
why not, as they move and act as one, maybe "bourgeois bloc" would 
suit them best.
	The ahorristas, or savers, hold their demonstrations three 
times a week. On the day we followed them, 17 banks were "visited." 
Before meeting them, it was difficult to imagine women with shopping 
bags and high heels kicking at corporate windows, huge lipstick grins 
spreading as they watched the glass shatter into thousands of pieces. 
That day they also surrounded every armored security van transporting 
cash from bank to bank that they came upon and covered each one in 
graffiti, while men in pin striped suits proceeded to unscrew the 
wheel nuts and others pried open the hood, tearing out wires from the 
running engines. Soccer moms jumped up and down on top of the vans, 
smashing anything that could be broken, side mirrors, headlights, 
license plates, windshield wipers and antennae. For three hours on a 
Monday afternoon, our understanding of the world was turned on its 
head, all our preconceptions and stereotypes melted away. "This could 
be my mom," we kept thinking.
	The ahorristas are the upper to lower middle class who have 
had their life savings frozen by the government-imposed corralito. 
Dressed in shirts and ties, pumps and designer sunglasses, they just 
don't seem the sort who would be smashing up corporate property. They 
are architects, computer programmers, doctors, housewives, 
accountants, and even bank employees, one of whom, dressed in a 
business suit and holding a wrench and a metal bowl, explained, "It's 
not just the banks who are thieves, it's the government with the 
corporations. They confiscated the money we had in the bank. They 
stole it." She pauses, and then shakes her fist. "I am very angry!"
	And yet the ahorristas are not simply the selfish petit 
bourgeoisie, worried only about their own money. Their struggle has 
broken out of the enclosure of self-interest, and has begun to 
encompass a critique of much of the social system. They have publicly 
allied themselves to the piqueteros and many take part in the 
assemblies . "A lot more than just the government must change here," 
says Carlos, a computer programmer, who has painted slogans all over 
his suit. His words echo those of the piquetero, Alejandro: "Us, the 
piqueteros, and all the people who are fighting, are struggling for 
social change. We do not believe in the capitalist neoliberal system 

Predicting the Unpredictable

The repudiation of the politicians and the economic elites is 
complete," says José Luis Coraggio, the rector of a university in 
Buenos Aires who is active in the movement. "None of them who are 
recognized can walk the streets without being insulted or spat upon. 
It is impossible to predict what will happen. Next month, or next 
week, Duhalde could be deposed, we could be in a state of chaos, or 
we could be building a new country that breaks with neoliberal and 
capitalist orthodoxy."
	Breaking with capitalist orthodoxy is what the IMF and the 
supporters of global capitalism most fear. Last year Fidel Castro 
caused a diplomatic storm when he accused Argentina of "licking the 
Yankee boot." Currently that boot is held over Argentina's face and 
will undoubtedly start kicking if the government does not find a way 
to please the demands of global capital, and get back to the business 
of licking again.
	However, the government is between a rock and a hard place - 
even if it had an iota of legitimacy within Argentinean society, 
which it clearly doesn't, it could not possibly please both the hopes 
of the citizens and the demands of capital as enforced by the IMF. So 
what can it do?
	Traditional remedies seem worthless, as the country's 
currency is steadily plummeting in value on the foreign exchange 
markets. People are queuing outside money changing shops for hours, 
desperate to change their pesos into dollars, before their cash 
becomes worthless. The government, in yet another desperate attempt 
to appear in control, put restrictions on the exchange rate, but this 
further infuriated the IMF because it is another artificial control 
of the markets. In response, Doug Smith, a Wall Street analyst, said, 
"The only thing that's going to stop this is for them to come up with 
some announcements that are credible and get the IMF behind them 
instead of trying to put Band-Aids on every situation." Yet there are 
no credible announcements to be made, and the wounds are too deep for 
	A certain kind of language has become common currency 
recently. The head of the IMF, Horst Koehler, has declared that "... 
without pain, [Argentina] won't get out of this crisis." President 
Bush called on Argentina to make some "tough calls" before even 
thinking of the much-desired financial aid, and President Duhalde 
himself said that things are going to get a lot worse before they get 
	Is this tough talk laying the groundwork for a military coup? 
After all, Argentina has had its fair share of these over the last 
century. But given the residual illegitimacy of the military, 
stemming from the decades of dictatorships, it seems that this option 
is unlikely, and besides, no one wants to take power and inherit the 
current situation, not even the military. In fact, it seems that 
there may be dissent their ranks - one officer told reporters, "Even 
if the situation turns to anarchy or civil war, if they ask me to 
intervene, my principal concern will be making sure my orders will be 
obeyed by my men."
	More likely than another coup, or CIA-funded force invading 
to "restore order" (common practice in Latin American history), 
another form of outside intervention will be attempted. "Somebody has 
to run the country with a tight grip," write two professors of 
economics in a Financial Times article brilliantly entitled, 
"Argentina cannot be trusted." The article goes on to suggest that 
Argentina "must surrender its sovereignty on all financial issues," 
it must accept "...radical reform and foreign, hands-on control and 
supervision of fiscal spending, money printing, and tax 
administration," preferably from a "...board of foreign central 
bankers," from "...small disinterested countries." To phrase it 
another way, it would be like Belgian, Danish, and Swiss bankers 
coming in to run the British Central Bank and Inland Revenue Service.
  	Despite shocking poll results saying that 47% of the 
population agrees that large parts of Argentina's government should 
be entrusted to international experts, there is such distrust in 
banks that it seems unlikely that the arrival of more foreign bankers 
will calm people's nerves. As Enrique Garcia, president of the Andean 
Development Bank, said recently, "People in the streets feel that 
instead of being part of the solution, the banking sector is part of 
the problem."
	The spirit on the streets and in the assemblies is that 
people can govern themselves. Another poll showed that one in three 
people had attended an assembly, and that 35% say the assemblies 
constitute ''a new form of political organization." The spirit of 
direct democracy and self-organization has never felt as strong as it 
did as we watched the assemblies unfold in the long, warm Buenos 
Aires evenings. President Duhalde may say, ''It is impossible to 
govern with assemblies," and believe that "the democratic way to 
organize and participate is through voting," but the people of 
Argentina have taught themselves through practice the real meaning of 
democracy, and the vacuous words of politicians now fall on deaf ears.
	One evening, after attending his local assembly, a middle 
aged man who was active in the resistance against the military 
dictatorship, turned to us, and said in a soft, confident voice, "In 
the last month we have achieved more than we did in forty years. In 
four short weeks we have given ourselves enough hope to last us 
another forty years."
	So a choice does exist, despite the government's blind 
adherence to the demands of the IMF. Argentina can choose between 
sovereignty and occupation, between the local desire of people and 
the global demands of capital, between democracy and empire, between 
life and money, between hope and despair.

Watch this Space

15th Feb. 2002

When we first landed in Buenos Aires, we were immediately searching 
for signs of the insurrection. Would this airport feel any different 
from any other? Would the streets be clogged with traffic, or with 
crowds? Was the garbage still being collected and the mail delivered? 
Never having been in a country in the midst of a mass social 
rebellion, we wondered what would appear different in everyday life.
	Riding into the city, we got our first clue. The barren 
stretches of highway that link cities with airports, so similar all 
over the world, are always flanked by rows of large billboards, 
advertising the staples of international business - Visa cards, 
mobile phones, hotels, airlines. This was true on this sterile strip 
of land, but something was different.
	Over half the billboards were completely bare, with huge 
white spaces where adverts would have been. There was something 
really beautiful about them, as they stood enormous in their 
emptiness, drained of the poisonous images of consumption, yet 
seductive in their nothingness, freed from commerce, and filled with 
possibility. They somehow stood for the space of change that this 
country is undergoing, they spoke of the pause, the blank sheet of 
paper waiting to be filled; they were the space from which a society 
could begin to imagine something different, the space from which 
people could begin to put dreams into action.


2 July. 2002
Returning to Rebellion

I arrived back in Argentina the day after the suprise announcement 
that early elections are going to be held in  March next year. "I'm 
not going to vote, why condemn your candidate to hell? No one can 
govern this country," exclaims my friend Anabella on the way home 
from the airport.

It's true - no one in their right mind would want to take on the 
presidency of a country in such crisis. It's difficult for any 
politician to appear in public without being hounded by angry 
citizens, making campaigning a difficult task. General elections in 
most countries tend towards farce, George W Bush's Florida coup being 
the most memorable recent example. But in a situation where the 
hatred for politicians is so endemic that the ex-finance minister, 
Domingo Cavallo has to employed a decoy in a mask, Argentina's 
elections are set to be pure burlesque.

Voting is compulsory in Argentina, unless you are 500km from your 
home on polling day. During the elections of 1999 an anticapitalist 
group took several hundred people 501km outside of Buenos Aires, to 
hold debates about direct democracy and register with an extremely 
perplexed local police force the fact that they weren't going to 
vote. In last October's congressional elections, a record 22 per cent 
cast blank votes or abstained - many put pictures of Osama Bin Laden 
in their voting envelopes. Recent polls have revealed that 63 per 
cent of Argentineans don't believe in representative democracy. This 
time around many more will abstain.  But breaking the law is 
commonplace now - even the middle classes, or what's left of them, 
are regularly refusing to pay taxes, or electricity bills.

There are three serious candidates who are neck a neck in the polls. 
One of them is a fascinating political paradox - Luis Zamora. Zamora 
is an ex-Trotskyite who has rejected his political past and has set 
up a social movement called "Self-determination and Freedom" which is 
influenced by Zapatismo and Autonomist ideas.

His movement is using the public space opened up by the election 
process, mainstream media debates and so on, to bring to light the 
rejection of representation and highlight other forms of power such 
as the assembleas and direct democracy.  When asked what he will do 
if he is elected, Zamora says he wouldn't last a day and that he 
doesn't want to be president anyway.  "Go self-determine yourself," 
he says. "Take care of yourself, take it in your own hands, if you 
don't take it in your own hands, nothing is going to change."

He describes what is happening in Argentina as "a revolution in the 
heads of millions", a process where the entire country is rethinking 
representative politics, discovering horizontal ways of organizing 
and beginning to realise a situation where the "population is doing 
politics" rather than the politicians. "The population is finding 
that it is facing itself," he explains, "its culture is to always 
look above, this is the culture that we all have. This is why this 
moment is so passionate and beautiful, because it is rethinking this."

Only in Argentina could one have a presidential candidate who does 
not want to be president and says things like: "the motto of the 
'anti-globalization movement' that the resistance to capital be as 
international as capital itself,  is showing a way, that the 
resistance to the barbarism of capitalism that is today globalized, 
be global."

Capital Retreats

One of the most visible changes in Buenos Aires since we were last 
here is the number of "cartoneras". These are the poor who collect 
paper and cardboard from the streets for recycling. In February we 
saw a few of them. Now on nearly every block of the city there are 
groups of cartoneras scouring the waste bins and bags of rubbish with 
their bare hands to find scraps of paper or cardboard to sell to 
recycling companies. As darkness falls the streets are filled with 
small groups of them pushing shopping trolleys loaded up with 
enormous white bags bulging with paper. In the morning they are gone. 
All that remains are trails of rubbish spilling from the bin bags 
that have been opened.

Over half the country's population has now fallen below the poverty 
line. Hunger continues to spread to places  where it was previously 
unheard of and unemployment is so endemic that there is a now a 
popular TV game show where contestants compete for a job. Sony and 
Time Warner are currently trying to outbid each other in an effort to 
buy the show and take it worldwide.

Banking restrictions remain, and the ahorristas continue to 
pressurise the courts and attack banks to get their savings back. Now 
they even have a leader, a trashy TV comedian turned political 
activist. Banks are still protected by steel sheeting. But the 
repeated visits of the ahorristas armed with their hammers and 
kitchen utensils have left thousands of dents and marks on the steel, 
vivid traces of  continuing rituals of resistance.

The Red Global del Trueque, the barter network, is expanding all the 
time. It now has 7 million people participating in it, credits are 
even accepted on some railway lines and many families rely on it for 
90 per cent of their needs.

Businesses are closing down everyday. In many cases the directors, 
unable to pay debts, simply disappear. This happened to some of the 
factories that are now being self-managed by the workers. They 
literally came into work one morning to find no managers and after 
waiting several days for the management to turn up, decided to run 
the factories themselves.

A book written by participants in the neighbourhood assemblies was 
being printed at a well-known self-managed printing firm in Buenos 
Aires when the police arrived to evict the building. A call went out 
to the local assembly, and literally as the book was coming off the 
presses they were forcing the police away and securing the building. 
Across Argentina, capital and the state is in retreat. The spaces 
that it leaves wide open are rapidly being filled by a multitude of 
creative social endeavours.

Social Creativity Advances

It's mid-winter here, although you can hardly call it winter - it 
feels more like a mild British spring. But partly due to the cold 
weather, the out door assembleas have grown smaller and many have 
decided to take over buildings, turning them into neighbourhood 
social centres which provide a permanent presence and meeting space. 
All kind of buildings are being occupied, and the idea is spreading 

In the Villa Urquiza neighbourhood they have occupied an old 
pizzeria. They serve a free meal everyday and free tea to Cartoneras 
who use the local station to return in the early hours of the morning 
to their homes in the sprawling suburbs. A large board in the street 
outside acts as a community notice board, where people can advertise 
any local jobs going, or share skills and neighbourhood information. 

Several banks have been occupied. In Parque Lezama Sur, the assembly 
has occupied the abandoned Banco de Mayo. When I visited, there were 
children using the enormous steel door of the bank vault as a goal 
for a wild indoor game of football. In one corner people were cooking 
soup and a 'protest art' workshop was taking place in the main lobby. 
Videos being shown in one of the back rooms, showed the day the space 
was occupied, local people, young and old,  forcing open the doors of 
the bank and rapidly transforming a space of private commerce into a 
collective space of cooperation and creativity. Bunches of wires from 
the banks old computer network hang down from the ceiling and someone 
had attached the banks mouse mats to all of them. Printed on the mats 
the banks corporate slogan announced: " Banco de Mayo, changing for 

Killing Piqueteros

The Piquetero movement has been growing across the country and 
despite a media campaign of criminalisation and warnings from the 
president that the government was no longer going to tolerate any 
more road blocks, a large mobilization took place on the 26th of June 
cutting some major arteries into Buenos Aires. After dispersing the 
crowd with teargas, rubber and real bullets, the police hunted 
piqueteros throughout the city, often firing from the back of 
cruising pick up trucks. What followed was the cold blooded murder of 
two organisers,  Darrio Santillán and Maximiliano Costequi, both in 
their early twenties and both from the most radical piquetero 
network. Darrio was shot in the back at close range while he was 
helping Maxi who had been shot in the chest . By the end of the day 
160 people had been arrested and over a hundred injured.   It seems 
that the whole thing was set up as a stage managed confrontation by 
the state, but it failed to break the movement and the response from 
every part the popular rebellion was incredible. Thirty thousand took 
to the streets in support of the piqueteros, and within days the 
president went on TV to apologise. The head of the secret service, 
the minister of justice and the chief of Buenos Aires Police were 
forced to resign and the police officers involved in the operation 
were put in jail. Days later Duhalde announced the early elections, 
brought forward by nearly a year, a clear sign that he is hanging 
onto power by his finger tips and that in Argentina it is people in 
the streets who are making politics.

17th July.2002

Beneath the Masks

The bus drops us beside a dirt track which is dotted with perilous 
pot holes filled with rubbish. The sulphurous smell of raw sewage 
rises from shallow channels of grey water that run alongside. We have 
arrived in Admiralte Brown, a huge sprawling neighbourhood somewhere 
beyond the southern edges of Buenos Aires. It feels like a hybrid of 
shanty town, wasteland and a crumbling soviet housing estate, a place 
where hope is in short supply and jobs are even fewer - unemployment 
runs at over 80 per cent here. Yet this is a stronghold of one of the 
most radical groups of Piqueteros, part of the Annibal Veron network 
that was targeted on the 26th of June when Dario and Maxi were 
murdered. This network is itself is part of the larger Movimento 
Trabajero Desocupado (MTD - Movement of Unemployed Workers).

A small, hand-painted sign marks the entrance to the MTD bakery. We 
pick our way through a pile of bicycles parked in the passageway 
which leads to a courtyard where about twenty people are sitting in a 
circle taking part in a workshop. Most are in their early twenties - 
some a lot younger, a few a lot older. Despite the occasional barking 
dogs, the gusts of wind, crowing cocks and small children running 
between the chairs, the participants seem intensely focused as Lola, 
the energetic young piquetero facilitator, hands out strips of paper. 
Stuck on the rough concrete wall in front of them is a large sheet of 
flip-chart paper divided into two columns, the left labelled: "MTD", 

The workshop is about to begin. As if on cue Astor bounces into the 
courtyard carrying a basket of warm doughnuts which he passes around. 
Astor works in the collective bakery. Short and stocky, dressed in 
bright colours - and occasionally nicknamed 'monkey' - his wide face 
continuously beams a cheeky smile. He sits down munching a doughnut 
and joins the workshop.

"What's the difference between a bakery here and a bakery in the 
capitalist system?" asks Lola. "Who are we producing for here?"
"We produce for our neighbours," pipes up Yvette, a grey-haired woman 
in her fifties, her brown face furrowed like a deeply ploughed field, 
"and to teach ourselves to do new things, to learn to produce for 
"For whom do the bakers work in a capitalist system?" Lola continues.
"For the managers, for a corporation," replies Maria, who sports a 
silver ring in her nose.
"The people working in bakeries are people like us," says Astor, "but 
they have to work long hours, often up to 3am in the morning when the 
dough goes in the ovens, they work their bodies to the bone."
Miguel, slouched in the corner and wearing an Iron Maiden sweat 
shirt, butts in: "And yet the people who work hardest get the least 
reward, they work in subhuman conditions, earn nothing and continue 
to work. But we produce so that everyone can live better." For a 
moment the group falls into contemplative silence.

Each strip of paper that Lola handed out has a statement written on 
it about either the self-organised collective "MTD" form of 
production or capitalist forms of production. The idea is they attach 
their strip of paper on the appropriate column of the flip chart and 
explain why they think it should go there.
A glum looking guy with long shaggy hair in a polyester black and red 
Nike track-suit stands up first. He reads out his strip of paper. 
"The most important aim is to make profits." He shakes his head.
"In the capitalist system, they don't care about peoples health or 
nature, to them all that is interesting is to make money. We produce 
for the needs of our neighbours, we all need a little bit of each 
other, we need each other."

Yvette is next. "Only one person makes decisions." She slaps the 
strip onto the "capitalist" column. "We decide things together here, 
and the money we make we share between all of us..."
One by one they all take turns, standing up, eloquently explaining 
the ways the different systems are organised and discussing each 
point at length.

Suddenly two cats start to fight in the tree that overhangs the 
courtyard. Tanya, a punky 21 year old who wears a chain and padlock 
around her neck, and is in charge of the piqeteros Security, throws a 
stone at the screaming cats, who scamper across the roof tops.

The workshop winds down with a long discussion about the problems of 
working collectively. They discuss the issue of some people in the 
groups who didn't participate in the process of contributing part of 
their income to the collective and how the assemblea after much 
discussion decided to expel them. Then one young woman explains how 
she is confused about how to manage her handicraft work group in a 
non-capitalist way. "We work five days making things, it takes so 
much time, materials are expensive, we have to pay for travel to the 
markets at weekends to sell stuff. It's so difficult." She worries 
that she is falling into capitalist ways by selling things so far 
away from the neighbourhood, things that people don't really 'need'. 
The group comforts her, telling her that there are different ways of 
producing things, that some compromises always have to be made, and 
suggesting that she tries selling stuff at the craft fair run by the 
social movement the Madres de Placa de Mayo.

"Do these principles we have been talking about really happen in the 
MTD ?" asks Lola, provocatively. Her extraordinary facilitation had 
meant everyone in the group has contributed to the debates.
"When we work together there are always some problems, not everyone 
is used to common work." says Yvette.
"We are so used to a capitalist work system," exclaims Maria. "My 
father worked in a capitalist system, so did his father - we are all 
so used to being told what to do. For many people it's difficult to 
have any initiative, they just wait to be given orders. And you know 
what?" she continues, grinning. "We still have some authoritarians in 
our group ! I'm not going to name names." Everyone bursts into 

As I sit there witnessing this extraordinary workshop, I try to 
imagine a similar group of young unemployed people in my own country, 
Britain, on a crumbling housing estate at 9.30 on a weekday morning. 
I wonder if they could ever have such an engaged and keenly developed 
critique of the system that had excluded and marginalized them so 
utterly from society.

The Strength of Sharing

Martin is in his thirties, short, with dark piercing eyes and sharp 
features. He founded the Admiralte Brown piqueteros group with Dario. 
Inspired by the nearby Solano group, one day they put up posters 
around the neighbourhood advertising a piquetero assembly. That was 
two and a half years ago - things are now very different. The group 
now has two sections within Admiralte Brown which meet in four 
different assemblies, with over 200 participants. The national 
Piquetero movements have become the key energy behind the popular 
rebellion that has spread across Argentina and Dario is dead, shot by 
the police three weeks ago.

Martin is the main person showing us around and introducing us to 
people here. His commitment, like everyone in the group, to 
non-hierarchical organising is total. He seems to have a leadership 
role that is not about coercion or command but about networking and 
storytelling. He displays a potent humility yet has a charismatic 
confidence which enables him to make connections between people, and 
he has a great knack for telling inspiring tales.

As we walk through the sprawling district, he lists the different 
activities that they have self-organised: "We have a group building 
sewage systems and another that helps people who only have tin roofs 
on their houses to put proper roofs on. There is a press group which 
produces our own media and makes links with the outside media. We 
have the 'Copa de Leche' (cup of milk) which provides a glass of milk 
to children every day. There's the bakery you just saw, and we're 
building vegetable gardens and a library. What we are about to see is 
the Ropero, the common clothes store."

Another wooden sign welcomes us to the MTD Ropero. We walk into a 
small room where half a dozen women are sitting around a table. 
Behind them a set of shelves has a few clothes folded on it. One 
woman is sewing by hand.

They greet us warmly and sweet mate is handed around by the Griselda, 
who shows us her red swollen fingers: "We mend all the clothes by 
hand," she says, "it hurts my fingers so much, we have no sewing 

She explains the function of the ropero. Its role is to distribute 
clothing to families who can't afford them. MTD people hand out 
explanatory leaflets, especially on the other side of the 
neighbourhood which is marginally better off but suffers just as much 
unemployment. People who have old clothes bring them here, where they 
are cleaned and mended. Then, twice a month, the Ropero is open for 
people from the whole neighbourhood to come and take clothes for free.

"How do you avoid people taking more than their fare share?" I ask.
"We have simple rules: no more than 3 clothes per person, and we have 
a book where we write down who has taken what clothes," she says, 
showing us a neatly written ledger with a dedication to Maxi and 
Dario written on the inside page. "But the other day a mother came 
who has ten children, and we didn't have enough to give them all 
clothes they needed," she sighs.

A collection of objects are stuck to the walls of the room. There is 
a faded picture of Jesus wearing a crown of thorns, a gaudy plastic 
clock, and next to it a press cutting with the large headline 
'AUTOGESTION', a beautiful word that has no direct equivalent in 
English but means autonomous self-organising, self-management. 
Beneath it is a hand-written sheet of paper that explains some of the 
points of principle of the movement. Listed under the "Criteria for 
work" are such things as: "Don't be a tourist in your groups, don't 
just sit and watch"; "Respect others"; "Give voluntary money to the 
common funds, especially if you get a Plan (unemployment subsidies )" 
and "Go to the assemblies". Another column explains the criteria for 
assemblies, including "Give priority to those who don't speak"; 
"Don't be authoritarian"; "Don't speak for others", and finally, 
"Criticise , don't complain". Griselda points out the back copies of 
the Aldmiralte Brown MTD photocopied newsletter also pinned to the 
wall, telling us that many of the women here cannot read and that 
every week when the newsletter comes out she reads it to them.

A woman at the end of the table holds up a pair of child's trousers 
she is working on, pointing to a large rip at the knees. "We don't 
have any material to make a patch, so we are cutting off the legs and 
turning them into shorts," she explains.
She then picks out a pair of Nike trousers from the shelf to show us 
what good condition some of the clothes that she mends are in. As she 
shows them to us, I wonder about the journey these trousers must have 
made, from the hands of a sweatshop worker in East Asia, via ships 
and shops, to Argentina, where they were bought, worn, donated and 
then mended by another hand, finaly to be given away as part of the 
project of an anticapitalist movement of unemployed workers.

Building Power

We are invited to have lunch with some of the people who work on the 
newsletter. They live on the other side of Admiralte Brown where 
small concrete houses give way to row after row of identical grey 
apartment blocks.
Over lunch in a small flat which doubles up as the newsletter office, 
we talk about global networks of resistance and swap stories of 
struggle and tactical tips. I tell them about the very different kind 
of roadblocks that I had been involved in with Reclaim the Streets in 
London. They tell me about the "Queen of the Piquete" fashion show 
that was put on by queer piqueteros during a road block. The 
extraordinary image of drag queens dancing through barricades of 
burning tyres is a hard one to shake.
The next day someone tells me that Carla, the large woman in her late 
fifties who cooked us lunch is in fact the same person who appears in 
the middle of the double page spread of the first edition ( and this 
edition) of our Argentina report, pictured sitting in front of 
burning tyres on blockaded motorway, masked up and wearing mirror 

These kind of apocalyptic images are, the overriding public image of 
the piqueteros. Leading up to the murders of the 26th of July, the 
mainstream media were manufacturing stories of violence including 
rumours that some piqueteros were preparing for armed uprisings 
inspired by leftist guerrillas. On the day itself, minutes after the 
deaths the media reported the police statements which said that the 
deaths were the result of rivalry between different Piquetero groups, 
something they had to retract as soon as pictures of the police 
shooting directly at individuals at close range came out. Two 
enormous demonstrations of support with people from every social 
strata have taken place since then and the piquetero movement itself 
is continuing to grow rapidly. "Since the 26th, links to the 
neighbourhood Assemblies movement have grown, they realise that we 
are not that different from them" explained Anna, one of the editors 
of the local MTD news letter.

The murders and mass arrests of the 26th changed a lot for the 
Annibal Verron network: "None of us are born MTD activists, we have 
to become one, we are a new movement," Maria explained to me, "since 
the deaths we have two priorities - to change the way we organise so 
as to dismantle the fear of repression that is growing and to have 
food for everyone in the movementî. A big debate is taking place 
about the role of masking up during actions, and it seems a decision 
has been made to stop wearing masks for the time being.

The challenge is to present the movement as unemployed workers, 
first, piqueteros, second. The piquete is just a tactic - though an 
amazingly successful one. "Direct action gets the goods," was the 
slogan of the Wobblies at the turn of the 20th century, and for the 
piqueteros that is certainly true. They block the roads, demand a 
specific number of 'plan trabajor', the unemployed subsidies, and 
more often than not get them from the local government - about 40 
pounds a month per person. They have also used the tactic to back 
various demands, including getting food from supermarkets.
Last Christmas they picketed eight blocks, closing down six 
supermarkets in one go. They demanded food for the neighbourhood's 
Christmas dinner. Lines of supermarket workers, who had been 
threatened with losing their jobs if they did not comply, protected 
the supermarkets behind a line of shopping trolleys and security 
guards. Eventually the Piqueteros convinced the management that it 
would be cheaper for them to give them food than to remain closed for 
the entire day.

But it's the constructive aspects of the movement which they want to 
show to the world: the self organisation, the direct democracy and 
the numerous neighbourhood projects, the bakery, the ropero and so 
on. As in many protest movements it is these constructive elements 
which are so difficult to make visible. The powerful current in our 
culture which obscures constructive, creative situations with the 
spectacle of conflict and confrontation runs deep.

The murders were less than 20 days ago, and yet no one seems 
paralysed by despair: "If another companero had been killed, Dario 
would have kept up the struggle, in fact he would have worked even 
harder... we have to continue to fight for food and projects - if we 
give up, we will have nothing," says Tanya.

Pillars of the Movement

After lunch we go to one of the two weekly MTD assemblies which are 
happening simultaneously in Admiralte Brown that afternoon.  Besides 
piles of burnt plastic and a ruined wall with a circle A and the 
words "False Euphoria" graffitied onto it, a group of 70 or more 
people stand in a makeshift circle. Raising their voices against the 
cold biting wind, they openly discuss the problems of the last week, 
share information and make plans for the following days.
A key event will be next week's commemoration of the June repression. 
Activists from the United States, part of Art and Revolution, one of 
the key groups involved in the Direct Action Network that Shut down 
the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting in 1999 in Seattle, 
have been working with the piqueteros here over the last few days 
building giant puppets out of cardboard for the commemoration events. 
A young woman proudly presents her puppet, attached to a long stick 
which she holds high in the air.

It's mostly women who do the speaking at the assemblea. Earlier, Anna 
had told to me how woman are the ones who are hit hardest by 
unemployment. When there is no food to put on the table, no clothes 
to dress the children in, it is they who are at the sharp end of 
poverty. Often the men feel rejected and are paralysed by the loss of 
identity which follows unemployment and in many cases it has been the 
women who have been the first to get out of the home into the streets 
to take part in piquetes. "Women's struggle is the pillar of the 
movement," she tells me.
Astor's mother had joined the movement before him. He had a job 
selling loans for new cars, and every time he saw his elderly mother 
on TV, masked up and blocking the highways, he would cringe with 
embarrassment. But now no one buys cars and the job disappeared. So 
one day he went to the piquetero assembly out of curiosity, and he 
saw how women, many of them elderly, many of whom had never had the 
possibility to make decisions or express important things about their 
lives, were able to put up their hand and talk freely and people 
would listen to them. They would propose good ideas and then they 
would then go into the streets for their children's sake. Astor has 
three children and soon he realised that he had to join the movement 

Transforming the Fences

After the assembly, Martin takes us across a football pitch that has 
probably never seen grass and whose goals are so rusty that they seem 
to have been bent by the wind that blasts across this place. He shows 
us the "Copa de Leche", the project which distributes milk to 
children. It is in a squatted building next to an occupied plot of 
They took the fences down that surrounded the land. All that remains 
of them are a few broken concrete posts. The rest have been cut up 
and used to build a brand new oven for baking bread. The old fence 
posts are literally what makes up the base of a huge roaring outdoor 
oven standing on the edge of this deserted football pitch and 
surrounded by newly dug vegetable plots. On the side of the oven one 
could just make out the words 'Cambio Social' -  social change - 
roughly painted there the day before by young piqueteros, trying out 
their paint brushes during the puppet-making workshop.

Two huge guys are stoking the fire and as we arrive we see them pull 
out a tray of freshly baked bread. Their faces erupt with pleasure as 
they set eyes on the steaming loaves, the first batch ever to come 
out of the oven. They pass them to an elderly woman who takes them 
into the building, only to return a few seconds later scowling and 
handing them back, saying they haven't been cooked enough, that the 
dough inside is still raw. The men hang their heads with bruised 
pride and hastily stuff the tray back into the oven.

Fences coming down has been one of the most powerful images of 
emancipatory movements throughout history, a perfect practise and 
metaphor for challenging the enclosure of life and land by capital. 
It was the 18th century philosopher, Jean-Jaques Rousseau who said of 
the first man who enclosed a piece of land as his own, "If only 
someone had pulled up the stakes and cried to his fellows: 'You are 
undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us 
all, and the earth itself to nobody!"
Unfortunately no one cried out then, but stakes have been pulled and 
fences been falling for hundreds of years - from the 16th Century 
Diggers to the assaults on the security fences during the actions 
against Free Trade of the Americas Agreement (FTAA) in Quebec and G8 
in Genoa.

The image of fences being pulled down and the posts being turned into 
something practical strikes me as a beautiful metaphor for the 
transformation of the enclosures of capital into creative autonomous 
tools of social revolution. A transformation which involves people 
beginning to build the life that they want and preparing to defend it 
rather than simply protesting against what they don't want.

Most of my life has been an attempt at finding a space where poetic 
acts and pragmatic solutions merge, a space between the imagination 
of art and the social transformation of activism, between 
utilitarianism and utopia, symbols and survival.
But I realise that it is perhaps a luxury to dwell on the beauty of 
metaphors when faced with hunger. Here fences were torn down and were 
transformed by people, most of whom had never even heard of Quebec, 
Genoa, or the Diggers, but who simply knew how to make the best use 
of a redundant fence.

Earlier, Martin had illustrated some of the difference between the 
symbolic nature of protest and the pragmatic nature of social 
revolution. He told me that they had once used a banner against the 
FTAA during a road block, but that they couldn't do an action against 
the FTTA itself. He re-emphasised the fact that the road blocks are 
specific tools to get specific demands. "You couldn't do one to 
demand that the FTAA is abolished, because it's too much risk with no 
direct reward," he explained. "When you do an action with a pragmatic 
end, even if you fail the first time, then the next time you try 
harder. No one would be willing to risk so much for an abstraction."

This same dichotomy came up again the following day when I am shown 
the indoor bakery. On the wall are beautiful ceramic tiles, a blast 
of colour amongst the dusty greys and browns of Admiralte Brown. "How 
beautiful," I say.
"Yes," says Astor, "a ceramicist made them for us and gave us a furnace too."
"Great," I think, imagining the piqueteros making tiles and giving 
their houses some brightness.
"But we are trying to work out how to transform the furnace into a 
bread oven - we don't need tiles." He takes a deep intake of breath. 
"Trouble is it burns too hot."

I don't remember who it was who asked the provocative question, "What 
is more beautiful? The paintings of the Sistine chapel, or the sight 
of carts in the morning bringing bread to the poor?". My answer was 
always the later, yet I always want to resist the reduction of 
political acts to those of necessity.  From my position of priveledge 
having never experienced the reality of poverty, it is easy to 
critique the politics of utilitarianism, feeling it determines limits 
of change before these limits are even known, that it strangles the 
spontaneity and creativity of radical action, that it dulls the 
imagination of a better future.

With these conflicts swirling around my head I say goodbye to Martin. 
"When I come back to Argentina I'll be able to speak good Spanish." I 
promise him. "Great," he laughs, "then you will be able to read Don 

Don Quixote - how could I forget! Suddenly his parting comment 
dissolves the false dichotomy that had muddled my thinking. It's not 
a choice between bread OR beauty.  The dichotomy between imagination 
and reason, bread and roses doesn't exist. If your hungry bread IS 
beautiful and baking bread on occupied land is an act that is so 
filled with meaning, and symbolism, that few would miss its 

Don Quixote ,the 16th century tale of the delusional old man who 
thinks he is a knight errant travelling across Spain to right all 
wrongs, fighting windmills he believes to be giants, with Sancho 
Panza at his side, an illiterate but shrewd peasant primarily 
interested in eating and drinking, illustrates these false 
dichotomies perfectly. The differences between imagination and 
realism, fiction and reality are shown to be illusions throughout the 
"Don Quixote is the best book of political theory," says 
Subcommandante Marcos, and apparently the book is always at his side. 
The most effective political practices are those that dissolve 
dichotomies and play with paradox. Zapatismo is a wonderful example 
of a practise where the beauty of symbols and the necessity of 
survival merge.

In Martin's laugh and parting words I see someone with a profound 
vision. An insurrectionary imagination that sees the poetry in a 
roaring bread oven, recognises the beauty in the fences coming down, 
and ultimately understands that from all this comes dignity. Dignity 
which all of us need more than any loaf of bread.
And when I look around me, in this landscape of deprivation I realise 
that the most beautiful thing here is exactly that, it is peoples 
dignity. Dignity that battles against exclusion. Dignity that is just 
as powerful and as beautiful as any colour, or poem, or song.

Those who live in Admiralte Brown have been forced to the edges of a 
system that only cares about the centre, only cares about those who 
can produce, who can contribute to the monster of economic growth 
that is choking the planet. Many have talked about the energy and 
creativity of the global movement of movements coming from the seams 
of society, erupting from the margins, from those who are without - 
the lesses - the landless, jobless, paperless, homeless. Here we are 
surrounded by the seams, a nowhere-land, a wasteland of wasted lives 
and wasted futures and yet here there is a spirit of creativity and 
struggle that is so strong, so solid and so irresistible.

The piqueteros know that you gain nothing by winning power. They 
don't want to take over the crumbling centre, they want to bring down 
all fences, and reclaim the edges, bringing life that's worth living 
back into their community. "We are building power, not taking it," is 
how Martin described it.

Whenever I asked people what had changed in their lives since they 
became involved in the MTD, they told me that the loneliness and 
isolation of unemployment and poverty had disappeared. They spoke of 
the power of togetherness and community. Tanya said to me, "The 
biggest change was the relationship with other people in the 
neighbourhood, the development of friendship and the possibility of 
sharing... When you're on a road block and you have nothing to eat, 
the people next to you share their food. Now I feel I'm living in a 
large family, my neighbours are my family."
The fear and mistrust sown by the military dictatorship destroyed 
connections between people and since then the dictatorship of the 
markets has built even more fences and separations, but the fences 
erected between people are now being pulled down by the strength of 

When I asked Tanya, weather she was aware of any past examples of 
self-management and autonomy - the Diggers, the Paris Commune etc, 
she replied: "No, I don't know these things. All I know is that I 
have lived here, in the neighbourhood, all my life and I see that 
people don't have proper homes, or food to put on their table, or 
streets that aren't muddy tracks - and I don't know what name to give 
to what we are doing here, all I can call it is "social change ."

Jordan, Higham, Kent, 27 Aug. 2002
    Some individuals names have been changed

A Post Script for the Global Anticapitalist Movement

Argentina's crisis is fast emerging as a sort of economic Rorschach 
test, used by economists and theoreticians of all ideological 
persuasions to prove their point," says the Financial Times. 
"Opponents of the 'Washington Consensus' say Argentina's experience 
shows the perils of following the recipes of the IMF. Supporters of 
free markets say Argentina's experience shows the danger of not 
opening up [the economy] enough."
	Argentina may well prove to be the crisis which irrevocably 
splits the ever-widening crack in the neoliberal armor, especially if 
things continue to unravel in other parts of Latin America. Recent 
events in Venezuela, and the possibility of left wing gains in this 
year's Brazilian presidential elections, point to a shift away from 
the "Washington Consensus" across much of the region.
	The last decade has seen the increasing delegitimazation of 
the neoliberal model, as a movement of movements has sprung up on 
every continent, challenging the seemingly unstoppable expansion of 
capital. From Chiapas to Genoa, Seattle to Porto Alegre, Bangalore to 
Soweto, people have occupied the streets, taken direct action, 
practiced models of self-organization, and celebrated a radical 
spirit of autonomy, diversity, and interdependence. The movements 
seemed unstoppable, as mass mobilizations got bigger, more diverse 
populations converged, and the World Bank, WTO, IMF, and G8 were 
forced to meet on mountain tops, protected by repressive regimes, or 
behind fences defended by thousands of riot police. Seeing them on 
the defensive, having to justify their existence, gave the movements 
an extraordinary sense of hope.
	By identifying the underlying global problem as capitalism, 
and by developing extraordinary international networks of inspiration 
in very short amounts of time, it felt almost as though history were 
speeding up, that perhaps we could succeed in the next phase, the 
process of imagining and constructing worlds which exist beyond greed 
and competition. Then, history did what it does best, surprising us 
all on September 11th when the twin towers were brought down, and it 
seemed for a while that everything had changed.
	Suddenly hope was replaced by the politics of despair and 
fear. Demonstrations were called off, funding was pulled, and mass 
backpedaling and distancing occurred within the  movement itself. 
Commentators immediately declared anticapitalism dead. The editor of 
The Guardian wrote "since September 11th, there is no appetite for 
[antiglobalization], no interest, and the issues that were 
all-consuming a few months ago seem irrelevant now." Others suggested 
that the movement was somehow linked to the terrorists. Clare Short, 
the UK development minister, stated that the movement's demands were 
very similar to those of Al-Qaida.
	September the 11th forced a reappraisal among activists, 
particularly in the global North. It challenged us all to take a deep 
breath, put our rhetoric into practice, and think strategically, and 
fast. Then three months later, history seemed to resume its 
accelerated speed, when Argentina erupted, followed closely by the 
collapse of Enron. It seemed that despite the blindly nationalist, 
racist, and indefinite "war on terror" to distract the world, 
neoliberalism was continuing to disintegrate.
	Perhaps the biggest challenge the global movements face now 
is to realize that the first round is over, and that the slogan first 
sprayed on a building in Seattle and last seen on a burning police 
van in Genoa, "We Are Winning," may actually be true. The "crisis of 
legitimacy" expands exponentially almost daily. Corporations and 
institutions such as the World Bank and the G8 are constantly trying 
to appease the growing global uprising, with empty promises of 
environmental sustainability and poverty reduction.
	On May Day, 2002 a new book is being launched by academics 
who lament, "Today there is an anticapitalist orthodoxy that goes 
beyond a latent hostility to big business. Its a well-organized 
critique of capitalism." The book argues that we must "start standing 
up for capitalism" because it's "the best thing that ever happened to 
the world," and that "if we want to change the world then we should 
do it through business," and treat capitalism as a "hero, not a 
villain." Perhaps a few hours on the streets of Argentina, or a chat 
with former employees of Enron would show them the true villainy and 
absurdity of capitalism.
	With mainstream commentators falling over themselves to 
declare that capitalism is good for us and will save the world, it 
seems clear that the first round of this movement has been a victory. 
There has been a "...nearly complete collapse of the prevailing 
economic theory," according to economist James K. Galbraith. But the 
next round will be the hardest. It will involve applying our 
critiques and principles to our everyday lives; it will be a stage of 
working close to home. A stage where mass conflict on the streets is 
balanced (but not entirely replaced) with creating alternatives to 
capitalism in our neighborhoods, our towns and cities, our 
bioregions. This is exactly where Argentina can show us an inspiring 
way to move forward.
	The situation in Argentina contains many elements of the 
anticapitalist movements:  the practice of direct action, 
self-management and direct democracy; the belief in the power of 
diversity, decentralization, and solidarity; the convergence of 
radically different social sectors; the rejection of the state, 
multinational corporations, and financial institutions. Yet, what is 
most incredible is that the form of the uprising arose spontaneously, 
it was not imposed or suggested by activists, but rather, created by 
ordinary people from the ground up, resulting in a truly popular 
rebellion that is taking place every day, every week, and including 
every sort of person imaginable.
	Argentina has become a living laboratory of struggle, a place 
where the popular politics of the future are being invented. In the 
face of poverty and economic meltdown, people have found enough hope 
to continue resisting, and have mustered sufficient creativity to 
begin building alternatives to the despair of capitalism. The global 
movements can learn much in this laboratory. In many ways it is 
comparable with the social revolutions of Spain in 1936, of France in 
May 1968, and more recently, in southern Mexico, with the 1994 
uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) - all 
rebellions which inspired, then and now, millions around the world.
	It was a spirit of innovative solidarity that sparked a 
transformation of the practice of politics, and led us into the first 
stage of this new evolution of people's movements. The Zapatistas 
sowed the seeds for creating "rebellions which listen" to local needs 
and demands, and which are therefore particular to each place, and 
activists from around the world responded, not only through 
traditional forms of international solidarity as practiced during the 
1970-80s, particularly by Central American solidarity groups, but 
also through applying the spirit of Zapatismo by "listening" at home.
	This network of listening that has occurred between many 
different cultures has been a cornerstone for the first round of this 
global movement, as it wove together its multiple differences, 
forming a powerful fabric of struggle. The second round needs to 
maintain these networks that nurture mutual inspiration flowing, 
because no revolution can succeed without hope. But the global 
anticapitalist movement also needs the reassurance of seeing its 
desires and aspirations being lived on a daily basis. The Zapatista 
autonomous municipalities in Chiapas are a kind of model, but are 
firmly rooted in indigenous culture, are small enclaves within a 
larger state, and are largely unexportable. Argentina, however, is an 
entire society undergoing transformation. It is a model that is much 
easier for the movements, especially those of the global North, to 
imagine occurring at home.
	However, the movement in Argentina is in danger of isolation; 
without the security and the mutual inspiration of international 
solidarity, it will suffer greatly. The mainstream press has mostly 
ignored the situation since the December riots, and most people we 
met felt that the world was unaware of their plight. For once, no one 
was chanting "the whole world is watching," because of course, it is 
in the interest of capitalism's defense team to ensure that we don't 
get to watch, don't get to see what's really going on. Although many 
anticapitalists worldwide have said "Thank god for Argentina," as 
we've had our hopes rekindled in the dark days post 9-11, most of the 
people on the streets of Argentina have no idea that they've provided 
such widespread optimism.
	If Chiapas was the place from which the seeds of the first 
round of this movement blew, then Argentina could well be where those 
seeds land, begin to sprout, and put down roots. We need to find 
creative ways to support and learn from the rebellion there as we did 
with the Zapatistas. Some solidarity actions have been taken - the 
Argentinean embassy in London was occupied and an anarchist flag hung 
out front, cacerolazos have taken place from Seattle to Sao Paolo, 
Rome to Nairobi. A chant directed against the World Economic Forum 
when they met in New York, proclaimed, "They are  Enron, we are 
Argentina!" But much more could be done, more stories could be 
exchanged, actions coordinated, and visits to the laboratory 
	There is a joke currently circulating the Japanese banking 
community, that goes: "What's the difference between Japan and 
Argentina ?" "About eighteen months." These bankers well know that 
the economic situation in Argentina will occur elsewhere, and that it 
is inevitable that the tug of war between people's desires for a 
better life and the demands of global capital will result in 
explosions across the planet. A recent report by the World 
Development Movement documents 77 separate incidents of civil unrest 
in 23 countries, all relating to IMF protests, and all occurring in 
the year 2001. From Angola to Nepal to Columbia to Turkey, the same 
cracks are appearing in the neoliberal "logic," and people are 
resisting. A dozen countries are poised to be the "next Argentina," 
and some of them may be a lot closer to home than we ever imagined.
	We need to be prepared, not only to resist, but to find ways 
to rebuild our societies when the economic crisis hits. If the 
popular rebellion in Argentina succeeds, it could show the world that 
people are able to live through severe economic crisis and come out 
the other side, not merely having survived, but stronger, and happier 
for struggling for new ways of living.
	As this goes to print, the economic crisis in Argentina 
continues to spiral out of control. Having succeeded in winning legal 
battles against the government (setting legal precedent that 
ricochets around the globe) and recovering their savings from banks, 
thousands of depositors are withdrawing their money from the banking 
system as fast as they can. In  recent days a judge has sent a police 
contingent and a locksmith to a branch of HSBC to recover a 
claimant's savings, while the vault of a branch of Banco Provincia 
was opened with the aid of a blowtorch. With the banking system about 
to go belly up, the government decided to close all banks for an 
"indefinite holiday." When the IMF refused again to loan more money 
and the Argentinean congress threw out  a bill that proposed 
converting the frozen bank savings into IOU government bonds, the new 
minister of economy resigned. In an emergency press conference, 
Duhalde declared "Banks will have to open again and God knows what 
will happen then. Banks cannot be closed permanently. It would be 
absurd to think of a capitalist system without banks."
	It may be absurd to think of a capitalist system without 
banks, but it is equally absurd to believe in the continuation of the 
present global system. Perhaps the most realistic thing to imagine at 
the beginning of this already war-torn century, is a system free of 
capitalism, one without banks, without poverty, without despair, a 
system whose currency is creativity and hope, a system that rewards 
cooperation rather than competition, a system that values the will of 
the people over the rule of the market. One day we may look back at 
the absurdity of the present and remember how the people of Argentina 
inspired us to demand the impossible, and invited us to build new 
worlds which spread outwards from our own neighborhoods.

John Jordan and Jennifer Whitney, May Day 2002

December 20th/21st  2002


Groups in Argentina and across the globe are calling for a global day 
of Action to demonstrate that those who are building alternatives to 
the dictatorship of the markets are not alone.

On the 20th of December, a day when tens of thousands will take to 
the streets of Argentina to celebrate the first anniversary of last 
years uprising, actions and events will take place across the world 
in solidarity with the people of Argentina.

The day will demonstrate that the movement of movements against 
capitalism can move beyond insurrection towards a real social 
revolution. A social revolution, made of thousands of revolutions, 
where people are beginning to build the life that they want and 
preparing to defend it rather than simply protesting against what 
they don't want. And that Argentina is an inspiring model of this.

What can you do on the day ? Here are some ideas ...Take pots and 
pans  into the streets to celebrate the sound of the Cacerolazo, 
start up a local neighbourhood assembly, visit your local banks who 
have branches in Argentina, Blockade roads in solidarity with the 
Piqueteros, occupy your work place or college and try out self 
management, subvert the spirit of consumer Christmas by creating a 
barter market ....the options are endless...

Argentina's own independent media centre, mostly in spanish, a great 
source of information straight from the streets.
Loads of links to excellent English language news and analysis about 
the crisis.
The Financial Times, always the best coverage of struggles in the 
global South! Why? Because they affect investment ...
Argentina's English language daily paper on line. Good for up to the 
minute news.

Text by:
John Jordan and Jennifer Whitney.

Andrew Stern, Argentina Arde, Argentina IMC, John Jordan.

Thanks to:
María Eva, Martín, Ezequiel, Maite, Chumbawamba, Griselda, Raphael 
and many others on the streets. Annabela, Gabriel, Manuel for the 
flat from heaven. Greyg for fellow travelling. Everyone at Admiralte 
Brown MTD. Naomi and Avi for contagious optimism.  Sherry Fraser for 
Photo Shop wizardry. Guilty and Cactus for late night redesign. James 
and Jane for a hideout on the marshes.  Joane and Josephine for love 
and support.

For more copies contact:

Translations and PDF of Que Se Vayan Todos Part 1:

For similar inspiration in print check out the forthcoming book
"We Are Everywhere: The Irresistable Rise of Anticapitalism"
published by Verso at the end of 2002.

- -- 
  "Be realistic and do the impossible, because if we don't do the 
impossible, we face the unthinkable." Murray Bookchin

WE ARE EVERYWHERE - a radical publishing project, needs your contributions.


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